A few weekends ago I took a trip up to Oklahoma City to attend the Zonta District 10 Conference. Zonta International is a global organization working to advance the status of women worldwide through service and advocacy. Nearly 33,000 members belong to more than 1,200 Zonta Clubs in 67 countries and geographic areas. I am a member of the Zonta Club of Austin, where I currently serve as Treasurer and Service Committee Chair. This was my first time attending a district conference - it was a lot of fun, and a really nice change of pace. I carpooled up to OKC with 3 of my friends (and fellow stampers I should add!), so the girl time in the car was lots of fun to begin with! We arrived late Thursday night and didn't come home until Sunday afternoon - that's three nights away from home - the longest I've ever been away from Carter! After all the traveling my husband has done so far this fall, it was really nice to have some time to myself. Not that I don't love being with my son, but you know, sometimes we just need a break!! And it was good bonding time for Carter with daddy as well. The conference was hosted by the Zonta Club of Central Oklahoma. Our OKC hosts arranged for a very special evening for us on Friday night. We had dinner at the Oklahoma City National Memorial. I had wanted to visit the memorial ever since it opened and this was my first time ever making it up to Oklahoma, so I was happy that this was part of our planned activities for the conference. To say this place was moving is an understatement. The entire memorial is so well done. Visiting was a very emotionally draining experience. I clearly remember finding out about the bombing when it happened in 1995 (and it's hard to believe it's been 12+ yrs already!). I know there are several bloggers out there from Oklahoma, so I imagine it's even more vivid for you. I was a month away from graduating from Michigan State University - sitting outside my lecture hall waiting for class to begin. This was in the afternoon - the bombing had happened earlier that morning. I picked up a copy of the campus newspaper, and it was the headline. It didn't completely sink in how horrible it was until later that evening when I saw the coverage on the news. I was dismayed when I later learned the connection between Timothy McVeigh and my home state. When graduation rolled around in May, we were lucky enough to have President Clinton come and give our commencement speech. Although it's an honor I'll never forget, it turned out to be a less than ideal graduation speech - it was his first major speech since the bombing, so of course that's what a large portion of it focused on. Not exactly an uplifting speech as you're finishing school and heading off into the "real world"! (plus we had to go through metal detectors in our caps & gowns to get into the stadium, and we could see sharp-shooters positioned along the upper rows!!) He ended the speech by saying something along the lines of "but Michigan is more than Timothy McVeigh and militias (gosh I sure hope so!). The real Michigan is corn flakes and the best cherries in the world!" Woohoo, go Michigan! (I don't know why but at the time that really struck me as goofy!). Anyway - that's my little connection to the tragedy that happened in OKC. Back to my experience at the Memorial - walking through the museum was rather difficult. The part that tore me up the most were all the references to the children lost in the daycare. I just can't imagine what that would be like. And outside - all the empty chairs - and the small chairs representing the children. The grounds are really moving - a large reflection pool, with a wall at one end saying "9:01" and at the other saying "9:03". The bomb went off at 9:02am on April 19, 1995. 9:01 represents a time when everything was normal, 9:03 represents the aftermath. One part of the museum that I found really fascinating was the information about how they solved the case and learned who was responsible. I'm a CSI fan, so all that real life crime-detectivework interested me. So - if you ever find yourself in Oklahoma City, I highly recommend you take some time to visit the museum and pay your respects at the memorial outside. You will not be sorry, or soon forget your experience! (ETA: As I typed this it made me curious just how accurate my memory of my commencement speech really was, so I found a transcript online. Pretty interesting to read it 12+ years later!)
Sorry for the digression, hope you found it interesting - I'll be back to our regularly scheduled cardmaking programming tomorrow!
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