Through Foreign Eyes - Spring/Summer 2009 travel blog

overhead view


memorial chair

chairs grouped by floor

memorial fence

reflecting pool

Big Texan

Big Illinoisan

feeling like a 5 year old

72 ounce steak

The Oklahoma City National Memorial was built in remembrance of the victims, survivors, and rescuers of the Murrah Federal Building bombing April 19, 1995. Twin gates, marking the east and west entrances to the memorial, represent 9:01 and 9:03, the minutes before and after the tragedy. Each of the 168 lives lost is represented by a chair made of bronze, stone and glass. The nine rows of chairs are in the footprint of the original building and the chairs are placed in the row representing the floor where that person was when the bomb exploded. The memorial also has a reflecting pool and special play area for children; many of the victims were children from the day care center on the first floor of the building.

It is hard to believe that this happened so many years ago or even that it happened at all. Events are still viivid in our minds and we debated whether we wanted to visit the site. But it has been highly praised as a memorial and after spending time here, we would concur. A museum nearby takes visitors through the time line of events before and after the building collapse, but after walking the memorial grounds, we had had enough. We hope that those working to memorialize the collapse of the Twin Towers in New York build something that does a similar quality job honoring those who died and the impact this tragedy also had on our country.

In a somber mood we headed west. It was hard to miss all the billboards luring us to the Big Texan, home of the free 72 ounce steak. The parade of signs made us think of the ones that entice travelers to stop at Wall Drug as they drive across South Dakota. Once we got to Amarillo, we just had to check it out.

The Big Texan has been feeding hungry travelers since 1960 and was doing a great business on this Monday night with a recession keeping folks eating at home. The 72 ounce steak came with a salad and baked potato and all had to be consumed within one hour or the meal would not be free. Big eaters had to pay the $72 fare up front and would get refunded if they made the meal disappear in the allotted time. Our waitress said that customers ranging from a 63 year old woman to a 15 year old boy had earned that free meal. Someone who wins lots of eating contests for a living had eaten the steak in less than eight minutes. Some of us were tempted; others were not. Wisely, we settled for a more reasonably sized piece of grass fed beef and marveled at the taste and tenderness. A crowd of young men were planning to take on the feast and were phoning home so that family members could log on to the web cam and watch them pig out - a sight the vegetarian members of our family would not approve of!!

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