I visited the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum in June. This is the 20th anniversary year of the terrorist bombing that took place there at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.
I went there three times in three days. First, I went at night, when the pool and the chairs are lit and create a place of tranquility in an otherwise buzzing downtown. I was with local hosts who explained how this memorial was conceived and created; they answered questions about how it feels to be visited by something so evil.
The 168 chairs represent the victims, some as young as 8 months, others well into their 70s. The pool is enclosed by a terrace. Visitors speak quietly to one another in small groups or sit on benches nearby in silence.
Above the terrace, above the chairs, lives the Survivor Tree. An American elm that withstood the blast, this tree represents so much to so many. During the bombing, it was shredded and wounded. Today, like the city it protects, it is full and vibrant.
I went back to the tree the next morning on an early morning run. A city worker was power washing the terrace beneath it, preparing for another day when people like me make a point of stopping by.