The Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum honors the victims and takes visitors through the timeline of it all using video, photos and recovered items. But Friday, April 8, they received something they did not already have in their collection.
After sitting behind a shed on a property in Oklahoma County for decades, then donated to the Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office, a poignant piece of our history was carried through the museum basement and presented to the collections manager.
“Wow.” Helen Stiefmiller said.
It's a sifter built and used by agents with ATF, FBI, OSBI, National Guardsmen and sheriff's deputies after the bombing – believed to be the only one left all these years later.
For weeks after the explosion ripped through the Alfred P Murrah Building, law enforcement sifted through 450 tons of rubble, salvaging anything they could.
“Their goal was to make sure that they found everyone,” Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Deputy Bradley Wynn said.
The now fragile artifact will help museum tell the story, according to Stiefmiller.
“Objects help tell stories. They make it more real. We have lots and lots of photos but when you have the actual object and you think about the people who used this and put the shovel full of debris through here and you can imagine what they went through, how they sweated and how they cried, how they triumphed when they found something really important,” she said.
And according to Deputy Bradley Wynn, it will also help in the healing process for law enforcement.
“They’re just now beginning to talk about it – 21 years later,” he said. “So this is the first piece to emerge from that effort that we’re making with our sheriff’s office to help them have closure.”
Stiefmiller said a replica could now be created of the artifact. But the original sifter will be stabilized and could go on display in the museum sometime in the future.