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KEY Oklahoma City


One of the most dramatic pieces of the $10 million expansion to the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum is an old, faded yellow car so worn out and rough looking that one owner called it a “roach mobile.”

The last owner of the 1977 Mercury Marquis paid $300 for it.

That last owner was Oklahoma City bomber Timothy James McVeigh and the Marquis is his infamous getaway car. An alert state trooper noticed the car had no license tag and pulled McVeigh over along Interstate 35 north of Oklahoma City 75 minutes after the explosion.

The rest is history.

The Museum this year opened new wings dedicated to the story of how McVeigh and co-conspirator Terry Nichols were brought to justice. The new wings focus on the investigators, prosecutors, judges and defense attorneys behind the justice process as well as the key evidence and witnesses.

“The Memorial Museum now includes hundreds of new artifacts, oral histories and new technologies that allow us to tell the story in a way that will engage visitors, especially young people, like never before,” said Kari Watkins, executive director. “A trip to the renovated Museum is like a new experience, even for repeat guests.”

Among the historic new artifacts is the 15-foot-tall lighted sign from the now-demolished Dreamland Motel in Junction City, Kan., where McVeigh stayed in the days before the attack. Next to it is the door from McVeigh’s motel room, No. 25.

Many of the new artifacts were donated by those involved in the justice story. McVeigh’s lead prosecutor, Joseph Hartzler, gave an inspirational message he wrote to guide him during the trial. In large block letters on notebook paper, it reads: “DO NOT BURY THE CRIME IN CLUTTER!”

The judge who oversaw Nichols’ state trial in McAlester donated his gavel. The two Oklahoma journalists who personally witnessed McVeigh’s execution gave up their notes on the event.

One of the most moving new spots in the Museum is an overlook of the Memorial grounds. Here, visitors almost always become silent as they gaze at the Field of Empty Chairs where the Murrah Building once stood and where 168 people lost their lives.


All the renovations have been completed in time for April 19, the 20th anniversary of the bombing.

The tragedy 20 years ago brought out the best in Oklahomans, as citizens rushed to help in any way they could, whether it be standing in long lines to give blood or dropping off food or supplies to rescuers.

That spirit of generosity set Oklahomans apart and became known as the Oklahoma Standard.

The Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum is leading a campaign to rekindle the Oklahoma Standard by asking every Oklahoman to commit to one act of
service, one act of honor and one act of kindness in April.

The act of service could be as simple as volunteering at a soup kitchen while the act of kindness could be opening a door for someone.

An act of honor is about paying respect to the victims and survivors of the 1995 bombing by learning about their stories at the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum, cheering at the Memorial Marathon or leaving a token of remembrance on a chair in the Memorial.

Thunder General Manager Sam Presti, who is campaign chairman, said he quickly realized how special Oklahoma is after arriving here in 2008.

“It’s different here. There were things happening in the community here and the people here that were so authentic and so genuine and were so selfless,” he said.

The Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum is at 620 North Harvey Avenue.

The Memorial is open around the clock. The Museum is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. The last ticket to the Museum is sold at 5 p.m. seven days a week.

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