This morning we took a tour of the Oklahoma State Capitol.
Oklahoma's first capital was Guthrie,
but it moved to Oklahoma City in 1910. Construction began on the Oklahoma State Capitol in 1914 and was completed in 1917. As World War I was raging at the time, there was no money to construct the dome on the new Capitol building.
The state capitol complex is the only state capitol grounds in the United States with active oil rigs.
In 1998, state legislators and the governor enacted legislation to create the Oklahoma Centennial Act, which formed the Oklahoma Capitol Complex and Centennial Commemoration Commission. The commission worked to fund a dome for the Oklahoma State Capitol and construction of the 55-million pound dome began in 2001 and was completed in 2002.
It included a 22 foot bronze sculpture called The Guardian.
The building, neo-classical is style, combines elements of ancient Greece and Rome. It is built primarily of Indiana limestone with pink and black granites quarried from Oklahoma. Most of the floor is Alabama marble and much of the trim is Vermont marble.
Rotunda and Interior Dome
The great seal of Oklahoma is rich with symbols of the history of the state. The center of the star contains the seal of the original Territory of Oklahoma. The seal contains the words Labor Omnia Vincit, meaning “Labor Conquers All Things”. Columbia is the central figure, representing justice and statehood. She is surrounded by an image of the American pioneer farmer on her right and the aboriginal American Indian on her left, both of whom are shaking hands beneath the scales of Justice, symbolizing equal justice between the Anglo and Native American races in Oklahoma and on the part of the federal government. Beneath the trio is the cornucopia of plenty and the olive branch of peace, and behind is the sun of progress and civilization. The five rays of the star hold the seals of the Five Civilized Tribes – Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek and Seminole, all of whom have a major presence in the state. Around the large star are 45 smaller stars, representing the 45 U.S. States that existed prior to Oklahoma's statehood (the large star would be the 46th star in the seal, representing Oklahoma's admission as the 46th state)
Formal Reception and Announcement Room (The Blue Room)
Hall of the Governors
Originally, it housed the judicial branch of Oklahoma, but the state's high courts moved most of their operations to the Oklahoma Judicial Center in 2011, leaving only the Supreme Court Hearing Chamber in the capitol building.
Internet photo as the Hearing Room was locked during our tour
The Capitol Building houses more than 100 works of art, a small sampling of which includes
as well as the portraits many for famous Oklahomans or people who made their mark in other states but were both in Oklahoma.
Seqoyah – Native Cherokee chief who in 1821 completed his independent creation of a Cherokee syllabary, making reading and writing in Cherokee possible.
T. Boone Pickens
Speaker of the House of Representatives Carl Albert
Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher – graduated from Lincoln High School in 1941 as valedictorian. In 1945, she graduated from Langston University with honors. On January 14, 1946, she applied for admission to the University of Oklahoma College of Law. After reviewing Fisher's credentials, the university's president, Dr. George Lynn Cross, advised her that there was no academic reason to reject her application for admission, but that Oklahoma statutes prohibited whites and blacks from attending classes together. After an unfavorable ruling from the Oklahoma Supreme Court, Fisher filed an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court. On January 12, 1948, the nation's highest tribunal ruled in Sipuel v. Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma that Oklahoma must provide Fisher with the same opportunities for securing a legal education as it provided to other citizens of Oklahoma. On April 22, 1992, Gov. David Walters symbolically righted the wrongs of the past by appointing Dr. Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher to the Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma, the same school that had once refused to admit her to its College of Law. As the governor said during the ceremony, it was a "completed cycle." The lady who was once rejected by the university was now a member of its governing board.
Dr. John Franklin – served on the NAACP Legal Defense Fund team led by Thurgood Marshall, and helped develop the sociological case for ”Brown v. Board of Education”. This case, challenging de jure segregated education in the South, was taken to the U.S. Supreme Court which ultimately ruled the legal segregation of black and white children in public schools was unconstitutional, leading to integration of schools
The Oklahoma state flag honors more than 60 groups of Native Americans and their ancestors. The blue field comes from a flag carried by Choctaw soldiers during the civil war. The center shield is the battle shield of an Osage warrior. It is made of buffalo hide and decorated with eagle feathers.
Nearby is a Veterans Memorial (the names of those Oklahomans lost in each of the four wars are engraved on the back of the respective walls).
World War I
World War II
Memorial to the USS Oklahoma (BB-37) sunk on December 7, 1942 at Pearl Harbor
American Legion Eternal Flame
From there we drive less than four miles to the Oklahoma City National Memorial which honors the victims, survivors, rescuers, and all who were affected by the Oklahoma City bombing on April 19, 1995.
Monumental twin bronze gates frame the moment of destruction – 9:02 – and mark the formal entrances to the Outdoor Memorial 9:01, found on the eastern gate, represents the last moments of peace, while its opposite on the western gate, 9:03, represents the first moments of recovery.
Both time stamps are inscribed on the interior of the monument, facing each other and the Reflecting Pool. The outside of each gate bears this inscription:
“We come here to remember those who were killed, those who survived and those changed forever. May all who leave here know the impact of violence. May this memorial offer comfort, strength, peace, hope and serenity.”
A thin (3/4") layer of water flows over polished black granite to form the reflecting pool,
which runs east to west down the center of the Memorial on what was once Fifth Street. Although the pool is flowing, visitors are able to see a mirror image of themselves in the water. Visitors seeing their reflections are said to be seeing "someone changed forever by what happened here."
On the Field of Empty Chairs, located on Murrah Buildings footprint, 168 empty chairs hand-crafted from glass, bronze and, and stone
represent those who lost their lives, with a name etched in the glass base of each. The chairs represent the empty chairs at the dinner tables of the victims' families. The chairs are arranged in nine rows to symbolize the nine floors of the building;
each person's chair is on the row (or the floor) on which the person worked or was located when the bomb went off. The chairs are also grouped according to the blast pattern, with the most chairs nearest the most heavily damaged portion of the building.
The westernmost column of five chairs represents the five people who died but were not in the Murrah Building (two in the Water Resources Board building, one in the Athenian Building, one outside near the building, and one rescuer).
The 19 smaller chairs represent the children killed in the bombing. Three unborn children died along with their mothers, and they are listed on their mothers' chairs beneath their mothers' names.
While our trip to the Memorial was during the daytime, the Field of Empty Chairs is, perhaps even more dramatic after dark (Internet photo).
The Survivor Tree is an American Elm on the north side of the Memorial. It was the only shade tree in the parking lot across the street from the Murrah Building. Photos of Oklahoma City taken in the 1920s show the tree to be about 100 years old. Heavily damaged by the bomb,
The force of the blast ripped most of the branches from the Survivor Tree, glass and debris were embedded in its trunk and fire from the cars parked beneath it blackened what was left. Most thought the tree could not survive. Almost a year after the bombing, family members, survivors and rescue workers gathered for a memorial ceremony by the tree noticed it was beginning to bloom again.
The Survivor Tree now thrives, and the Outdoor Memorial design includes a mandate to feature and protect the tree. For example, one of the roots that would have been cut by the wall surrounding the tree was placed inside a large pipe, so it could reach the soil beyond the wall without being damaged.
The decking around the tree was raised several feet to make an underground crawlspace; workers enter through a secure hatchway and monitor the health of the tree and maintain its very deep roots.
The inscription around the inside of the deck wall around the Survivor Tree reads:
“The spirit of this city and this nation will not be defeated; our deeply rooted faith sustains us”
Hundreds of seeds from the Survivor Tree are planted annually and the resulting saplings are distributed each year on the anniversary of the bombing. Thousands of Survivor Trees are growing in public and private places all over the United States
More than 5,000 hand-painted tiles, from all over the United States and Canada, were made by children and sent to Oklahoma City after the bombing in 1995. Most are stored in the Memorial's Archives, and a sampling of tiles is on the wall in the Children's Area.
Chalkboards provide a place where children can draw and share their feelings.
North of the memorial is the Journal Record Building now houses the Oklahoma City National Memorial Museum,
After a history of the site, the recorded minutes of a meeting of the Water Resources Board, which met in a building across the street from the Murrah Building, are heard beginning at 9:00 AM. The recording is interrupted at 9:02 AM when the blast
The chaos and heroic efforts of survivors, emergency responders and family members of victims are depicted through audio and video presentations … some made at the time, others years later. There are exhibits of some of the materials recovered from the scene.
The story of the forensic investigation puts television’s CSI and Forensic Files, to shame as does the speed with which they were able to identify Timothy McVeigh as the likely bomber, including the motel where he and Nichols assembled the bomb.
McVeigh’s initial arrest just 90 minutes after the blast during a routine traffic stop for failing to have a license plate on the Mercury he was driving
and the arresting officer’s discovery of weapons in the vehicle are chronicled
The Latin phrase printed on the front of his t-shirt means, “Thus Always to Tyrants” … the same phrase yelled by John Wilkes Booth when he assassinated President Abraham Lincoln. The back of the shirt is printed with the words by President Thomas Jefferson, “The Tree of Liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of Patriots and Tyrants”.
MeVeigh’s connetion with Terry Nichols and Michael Fortner are traced together with the subsequent trials and sentences’ MeVeigh to death, Nichols to 161 consecutive life sentenses at Colordao’s “Super Max” and Fornier who served 10 years and was release in 2006.
Some interesting facts about the bombing:
- The truck filled with explosives was parked directly under the America's Kids Day Care Centre in the federal building. Of the 21 children there that morning, only six survived.
- The blast measured around 3.0 on the Richter scale and could be heard up to 55 miles away.
- The victims, including three pregnant women, ranged in age from three months to 73 years
- 99 of the victims worked for the government.
- McVeigh graduated from the US Army Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia, in May 1988, where he had met Nichols. While training, McVeigh used much of his spare time to read about firearms, sniper tactics, and explosives.
- McVeigh and Nichols purchased or stole the materials they needed to manufacture the bomb the year before the attack, which they stored in rented sheds until two days before.
- Reports suggested McVeigh and Nichols burgled gun collector Roger E Moore in his home of $60,000 worth of guns, gold, silver and jewels, transporting the property in the victim's own van, but this is disputed.
- The damage caused by the blast was estimated to be worth $652m, destroying over 300 buildings, burning 86 cars and shattered glass in 258 buildings.
- The broken glass alone accounted for 5% of the death total and 69% of the injuries outside the Murrah Federal Building.
- The blast created a 30ft-wide, 8ft-deep crater on the street outside the Alfred Murrah Federal Building.
- In the aftermath of the bombing, The Salvation Army served over 100,000 meals and provided over 100,000 ponchos, gloves, hard hats and knee pads to rescue workers.
- Some of the debris was used as evidence in the conspirators' trials, as well as incorporated into memorials, donated to local schools, or sold to raise funds for relief efforts.
- In the days following the blast, over 12,000 people participated in relief and rescue operations.
- The Ryder truck contained more than 2,200kg of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, nitromethane, and diesel fuel mixture.
- Both McVeigh and Nichols had expressed anger at both the FBI's 1992 stand off with Randy Weaver at Ruby Ridge, as well as the federal government's handling of the 1993 Waco siege (also on April 19th), both of which inspired their attack in Oklahoma.
- During the attack, McVeigh carried pages from The Turner Diaries, a 1978 novel by William Luther Pierce in which supremacists who start a violent revolution to exterminate the US federal government.
- McVeigh's execution in 2001 was the first federal execution in 38 years.
The memorial is extremely well done and the museum presented history of this horrific and tragic event in a very thorough and easy to understand way!
Leaving the museum, we ran into several National Park Service rangers who were celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Service’s creation in Austus 25, 1816. Birthday cake and a photo op followed.
Before leaving the city, we stopped at St. Joseph’s Cathedral, one of the first brick and mortar churches in the city and located on a corner adjacent to the memorial.
On the corner of the property, is a sculpture titled "And Jesus Wept", although not part of the memorial (backgrouund) itself.
Another nearby church is the United Methodist First Church
This evening, we again had dinner with my cousin, Larry as well as being joined by Sue Kelly, his late brother Don’s wife.