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Antlers GEAR UP Juniors visit the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum

4/22/2016

WILBURTON, OK (April 22, 2016) – GEAR UP juniors from Antlers recently visited the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum. Students were able to tour the museum that documents the time before, during and after the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building as well as listen to a First Person presentation.

Upon arriving, students experienced the First Person: Stories of Hope program with speaker Derek Smithee. Smithee worked for the Oklahoma Water Resources Board and was injured the day of the bombing. Glass from an office window was blown into Smithee from the force of the bomb. He endured having 50 pieces of glass removed from his body and still carries one in his skull that was buried so deep the doctors left it in to avoid causing more damage to his body. Smithee can feel a piece of glass that is imbedded in his skull through his scalp and doesn’t mind students touching it if they wish. Smithee spoke of friends that he lost as well as people he knew that were changed forever by the terrorist act. Smithee still works for the Oklahoma Water Resources Board.

Students were then taken on the Ranger Talk part of the experience by Park Ranger Athena Gonzalez. Gonzalez explained the symbolic parts of the outdoor park as well as providing an overview of the events of the historic day and showing locations of different buildings as well as the location of the Rider truck that housed the bomb that was detonated.

The outdoor park sets on what was once the Murrah Federal Building, parking lots and street that ran in front of the building. Currently rows of empty chairs that represent the lives that were lost on that day, listed by the floor they were on and office they were in or were visiting that day are found on the location where the Murrah Building once stood. Large chairs symbolize the adults and 19 small chairs represent the children that were lost in the daycare center that was located on the 2nd floor of the building. The park is divided by a reflecting pool that is bordered on two ends by walls.

The walls represent the minute before and the minute after the bombing occurred, and the pool represents the time of the bombing. Surrounding the park is the Rescuers Orchard, where there are many trees that represent the emergency responders that responded from all over the United States and around the world.

Next students were led through the indoor museum that chronicles the events of the day as well as the days that followed the Oklahoma City Bombing. The Museum occupies the west end of the former Journal Record Building that was damaged in the bombing. The Journal Record Building was built in 1923 and was across the street from the Murrah Federal Building. Housed in the indoor museum are the artifacts and interactive pieces to the Memorial. Inside the recently updated museum, students experienced multimedia interactive exhibits, artifacts recovered from the destruction, and evidence gathered and used in the prosecution of Timothy McVeigh and his accomplices.

The site remembers and honors victims, survivors and rescuers that were involved in the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Murrah Federal Building by bomber Timothy McVeigh. It also documents and lays out a timeline of events that took place before, during and after the bombing. It provides an account of the bombers’ actions leading up to the day, the explosion, and rescue and recovery efforts that followed, as well as the capture and prosecution of McVeigh and his accomplices. The Memorial is an interactive site that allows visitors to use touch screen technology and view events through video screens that display artifacts from that time period. Museum tour guide Jack Bennett spoke to the students and gave them an overview of both the indoor and outdoor exhibits.

“Both teachers and students were moved by the experience they had at the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum,” said GEAR UP Education Coordinator LaDonna Baldwin.

The field trip was sponsored by Eastern Oklahoma State College GEAR UP. Participating schools take two field trips each academic year—one to tour a college or university and one that is cultural/educational in nature.


Antlers GEAR UP juniors visiting the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum included: Front Row: Connor Snow, Britney Goodnight, Meske Harjo, Nikki Wyma, Tara Rudder, Michaela Morehead, Roneshia Williams and Hanna Smith. Row 2: Samantha Miller, Silas Maple, Zachary Warren, Kaylee Huffman, Priscilla Webster, Kendra Clagg and Miranda Ely. Row 3: Bradan Parks, Kyle Remington, Ryan Lohrman, Max Pruit, Faith Owens, Jaci Mears and Bailey Perry. Row 4: Ross McKnight, Cole Harris, Dustin Morehead and Ty Bell. Back Row: Charles Fuller, Micah Byers, Ryan Lewis and Conner Copeland.


First Person: Stories of Hope program speaker Derek Smithee talks to Antlers GEAR UP students as they tour the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum.


First Person: Stories of Hope program speaker Derek Smithee shares how he has endured having 50 pieces of glass removed from his body and still carries one in his skull that was buried so deep the doctors left it in to avoid causing more damage to his body.


Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum Park Ranger Athena Gonzalez explains the layout of the outdoor park to Antlers GEAR UP juniors.


Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum Tour Guide Jack Bennett guides Antlers students through the Memorial and Museum.


Antlers GEAR UP students learn about the bombing of the Murrah Building from Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum Tour Guide Jack Bennett.


Antlers GEAR UP juniors are led on a tour of the Oklahoma City Memorial & Museum by Tour Guide Jack Bennett.

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