New York representatives tour Oklahoma City Memorial

Wednesday, January 23rd 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Representatives of a New York task force toured the Oklahoma City National Memorial on Wednesday to get ideas about how to rebuild the 20-acre area where the World Trade Center once stood.

The 11-member Lower Manhattan Redevelopment Corp., a joint state and city panel, is beginning to discuss how to honor the Sept. 11 victims.

Members Roland Betts and Deborah Wright were in Oklahoma City for the memorial's announcement of a new exhibit titled ``A Shared Experience: 04.19.95-09.11.01,'' which will focus on the way people reacted to the 1995 bombing and the Sept. 11 attacks.

Betts and Wright also talked to bombing survivors and victims' relatives. They said the most important thing they learned was that they need to take it slowly and gather input from anyone who wants to participate.

``The shortest way is going to be the long way,'' Wright said. ``The process itself is perhaps more important than the result.''

Oklahoma City residents were meeting within three months of the disaster, but it was five years before the outdoor memorial opened.

The New York task force members said they felt overwhelmed by the task ahead.

``The memorial itself is so elegant and peaceful and serene,'' Betts said. ``I was really blown away by this museum. The notion that the city has done all of this, and it's a consensual process, in a period of six years, ... we find it scary.''

The new exhibit about the shared experiences of terrorist victims in Oklahoma City, New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania will open on the seventh anniversary of the federal building bombing.

``Although the numbers are tremendously different, the human response to terrorism is very much the same,'' said Linda Lambert, chairman of the memorial trust.

The exhibit will remain in Oklahoma City for about a year, then travel to New York, Washington, D.C., and Shanksville, Penn., she said.

It will have five sections: terror, courage, response, experiences and lessons.

The exhibit also will include information on seven Sept. 11 victims with Oklahoma ties and nine rescue workers killed at the World Trade Center site who helped rescue bombing victims.

Lambert said national memorial officials decided in November they wanted to create the exhibit because Oklahoma City residents feel strongly connected to the three other cities.

The memorial bought a full-page ad in the New York Times two days after the attacks that said, ``Oklahoma cares. You stood by us in our darkest hour and now we stand by you.''

Within weeks, the city sent hundreds of teddy bears to the children of New York. And several bombing survivors and victims relatives went to the World Trade Center site to counsel grieving families.

``That's a day that's etched in all of our memories for the rest of our lives, very much like April 19, 1995,'' Lambert said. ``The first question that we continue to ask ourselves is, 'What can we do?'''