Canadian GEAR UP students tour Rose State and the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial


WILBURTON, OK (April 21, 2014) – Canadian eighth and ninth grade GEAR UP students traveled to Midwest City recently to tour Rose State College. The next stop was the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial and Museum.

Students walked through the memorial site to remember those who were killed, those who survived and those changed forever by the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.

Students walked through the Outdoor Symbolic Memorial, a place of quiet reflection. It encompasses the now–sacred soil where the Murrah Building once stood, as well as the surrounding area devastated during the attack. Monumental twin gates frame the moment of destruction—9:02 a.m.—and mark the formal entrances to the Memorial. The East Gate represents 9:01 a.m. on April 19, and the innocence of the city before the attack. The West Gate represents 9:03 a.m., the moment all Oklahomans were changed forever, and the hope that came from the horror in the moments and days following the bombing.

The reflecting pool occupies what was once N.W. Fifth Street. Here, a shallow depth of gently flowing water helps soothe wounds, with calming sounds providing a peaceful setting for quiet thoughts. The placid surface shows the reflection of someone changed forever by their visit to the Memorial.

Students stood in awe while viewing the quiet deafening silence of the 168 chairs that represent the lives taken. Chairs stand in nine rows to represent each floor of the building, and each chair bears the name of someone killed on that floor. Nineteen smaller chairs stand for the children. The field is located on the footprint of the Murrah Building.

On the east end of the Memorial stand the only remaining walls from the Murrah Building—the Survivor Wall. These walls remind us of those who survived the terrorist attack, many with serious injuries. Today, more than 600 names are inscribed on salvaged pieces of granite from the Murrah Building lobby. The Survivor Tree, an American Elm, bore witness to the violence of that day and withstood the full force of the attack. Years later, it continues to stand as a living symbol of resilience. The circular promontory surrounding the tree offers a place for gathering and viewing the Memorial.

Like the people who rushed in to help, The Rescuers’ Orchard is an army of nut– and flower–bearing trees surrounds and protects the Survivor Tree. In the aftermath of the blast, children from around the country and the world sent in their own expressions of encouragement and love. That care is represented today by a wall of tiles painted by children and sent to Oklahoma City in 1995. In addition, buckets of chalk and chalkboards built into the ground of the Children's Area give children a place where they can continue to share their feelings—an important component of the healing process.

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 or educational in nature.

In 2011, Eastern received a seven–year, $12.6 million federal GEAR UP grant and is in its third year of implementation.

Canadian eighth grade students visiting the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial and Museum during a recent an Eastern Oklahoma State College GEAR UP field trip.

Canadian ninth grade students visiting the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial and Museum during a recent an Eastern Oklahoma State College GEAR UP field trip.

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