Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Thunder UP!

Yesterday Becky Sue focused on her favorite place, Maine. (thanks for guest posting with us!)  Her beautiful photos have me adding Maine to my list of places to travel.  She encouraged us to show our places.  The places where we are at home, where we are ourselves.  The places where we feel whole.  For me that's my hometown Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  

As a child I spent many vacations outside of Oklahoma.  I wanted to see the beach, experience Disney World, smell the mountain air in Colorado.  My plan when I was a senior was to attend college anywhere BUT Oklahoma.  Where did I end up?  The University of Oklahoma.  I wasn't very happy at first because I wanted to break out of this red dirt state and see outside the "bible belt".  But then April 19, 1995 happened.  A bomb exploded outside our Federal Building in downtown OKC killing 168 people.  What happened after that can only be described as a rebirth.  I watched people work together side by side to create a big league city.

It all started with the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum.  A place where "we come here to remember those who were killed, those who survived and those changed forever. May all who leave here know the impact of violence. May this memorial offer comfort, strength, peace, hope and serenity."  After that we saw the development of Bricktown and the Riverwalk. Homegrown companies began to create beautiful campus settings and added a new skyscraper to our downtown skyline.  Adding to the excitement was the arrival of the OKC Thunder NBA team.  Oklahoma City used to be divided orange (Oklahoma State University) and red (University of Oklahoma).  Now you look around into a sea of blue everyone cheering on the same team.  And that team has made it to the NBA finals!  On the old I-40 interstate THUNDER UP has been painted, each letter 23' tall, by the construction workers who were hired to tear it down.  Yards are painted with Kevin Durant's number 35.  An Oklahoma business has draped the front of their building with James Harden's beard while apparel stores are frantically trying to keep their shelves stocked with the latest Thunder gear.  Even today the weather forecasters predicted a thunderstorm.

My children are growing up in the heartland surrounded by a strong community.  A community with strong leaders, compassionate citizens and basketball players who have adopted this state as their own.  Team is One is printed on 18,032 t-shirts that are left on each seat in the arena donated by an Oklahoma company.  That is team spirit!

With the arrival of the NBA team comes recognition from outsiders who are learning just how special this place really is. With every Thunder win comes an article that talks about this big league city....MY big league city! I read articles like this one and it brings tears to my eyes...tears of pride. OKC is on the world stage and we are ready for our closeup.  I invite you all to visit Oklahoma City and see why this place is so special to me and why I am proud to call myself an Oklahoman!

Don't forget to post your abstract photos in our  Flickr Group for our theme of the month! 


kelly said...

i too am an okie and could not be more proud! we actually lived in OKC during the bombing and i will never forget the days after and how our whole state came together to support the victims and their families. between the hardworking, friendly people and stunning natural beauty, there is no where else i want to call home. :)

Linda said...

There's no place like home! It's nice that you didn't have to leave home to realize it! The OKC bombings were terrible, it's nice to hear how the city pulled together in the aftermath.
I love that you included Shaq in your mosaic! What a special moment that was!
I think I heard a little thunder here last night! ;)



Cathy H. said...

What a great post about your state! I love your collage! Your kids are precious supporting your team! I've not been to Oklahoma many times. I have been to Wilburton. We attend the fall festival at Robbers Cave State Park each year and enter our antique truck in the car show. It's a beautiful park and we love to go there! You have me wanting to visit more of your state! If only my husband liked to travel!!!

Dotti said...

UP THUNDER, indeed! I'm for whoever is playing the Heat. I was really disappointed that the Celtics didn't do it. And I'm not even an NBA fan.

I visited OKC almost 5 years ago. My daughter had to go there on business while she was still nursing her then 4-month old daughter so I was the traveling nanny-granny. While my daughter was in meetings, my granddaughter and I walked around OKC, spent a lot of time on the Riverwalk. The day we were leaving, the wind was blowing so hard (October), we could barely stand up straight!

Yes, Leigh ... OKC is a lovely city that has found itself. You should be proud.


Barbara said...

Loved this, Leigh! Thunder Up! :-)

heyjudephotography said...

Hey Leigh, it was realllly thundering here in NY last night watching the game! Yay for OKC. (I'm with Dotti - Boston's out :( so we're routing for OKC! The grass is always greener on the other side - lucky for you that you didn't have to be on the other side to realize OKC's beauty! I have been in almost every state in the nation, but have not been to Oklahoma - yet. Sounds lovely!

Deanna said...

Oh shucks, I am not much of a basketball fan (except for maybe when Michael Jordan played for the Bulls) but I can feel the excitement. I may have grown up in Texas, now live in the Midwest, but I was born in Tulsa, OK. Bet you didn't know that. Great post, Leigh. And I do remember the day of the bombing, remember it distinctly, where I was, what I was doing when it happened. I am happy to hear that all that good came out of that tragedy.

Carol said...

We in NYC know the feeling of something terrible happening, of course. But I do feel there is much more good in the world than bad. It's so nice that getting through those times forms an even deeper bond. Good rising!
Thunder up! and hang on to your pride!

terriporter said...

Your pride in your city is so evident here, Leigh. It is wonderful when a city bands together either in the face of a tragedy or in celebration of a triumph. I remember when the Suns went to the finals and how the whole city was dressed in orange and purple and cheering on their hometown team. Since we're NOT in the finals this year, we're rooting for OKC to win it all. They deserve it! Thunder UP!

Becky Sue said...

I, too, remember exactly where I was when I heard about the bombing. It was so frightening and heartbreaking. Yes, the pride in your city is so evident, it sounds like a wonderful community. It's really too bad that it takes tragedies to pull everyone together but look how long it has lasted in your neck of the woods. Good luck with that Thunder. I used to play basketball throughout high school but I'm not much of a fan anymore. Though it's a good thing the Celtics are out because I'd become a fair weather fan and then you and I would have to trash talk.

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