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THE ENEMY WITHIN: Terror in America – 1776 to Today Exhibit Walk-Through

From the Revolutionary War to the War on Terrorism, THE ENEMY WITHIN: Terror in America – 1776 to Today uncovers the forgotten stories of domestic terrorists and foreign agents, militant radicals and saboteurs who have threatened America’s sense of security over the past 230 years.

Through interactive exhibits, thought-provoking films, and polling stations, THE ENEMY WITHIN explores nine major events and periods in U.S. History when America felt threatened by enemies within its borders. With each major event, visitors track the terror as it happened, witness how the government and public responded, and examine the challenge of securing the nation without compromising the civil liberties upon which it was founded.

Upon entrance, visitors are immediately introduced to 170 events including acts of terror and America’s reactions through an extensive floor to ceiling timeline mural. From the plot to kidnap George Washington in 1776 to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 and beyond, visitors examine how prevalent terror has been in this nation’s history.

REVOLUTION: 1776 - 1890
Here visitors experience the terror of British troops during the War of 1812. This section reveals how just a few Americans loyalists helped the British overwhelm American defenses and capture the city of Washington. Visitors see the flames and billowing smoke of the White House and witness the destruction of its furnishings. The voice of Dolly Madison and her quest to save an important White House painting illustrates the sudden sense of urgency and despair facing the young nation as it engages in one of its first wars.

SABOTAGE: 1914 – 1918
This section traces America’s response to acts of sabotage on its soil, including the passage of the 1917 Espionage Act, the 1918 Sedition Act and the growth of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Here historic film footage enables visitors to witness shrapnel showering Manhattan after German secret agents, aided by American collaborators, bombed a munitions depot in New York Harbor. Visitors walk through the massive wasteland of destruction from the explosion, littered with broken crates and artillery shells as the dramatic film footage brings the devastation to life. Visitors will also see replicas of tools used by these saboteurs, including anthrax vials and cigar bombs.

HATE: 1865 - Present
A floor-to-ceiling image of the 1925 Ku Klux Klan march through the heart of the Nation’s Capital confronts visitors as they enter the section that traces the repeated rise and fall of the nation’s oldest hate group. Visitors hear the voice of a former slave describing the violence and murder committed by the Ku Klux Klan, see graphic images of lynching, and witness Klan acts of terror caught on film. Artifacts on display include a family— father, mother, child — of Klan robes, a recruiting pamphlet and a book of Klan rituals.

RADICALISM: 1917 - 1920
The early years of the 20th century were marked by massive immigration, poor working conditions, and public unrest. Violence punctuated the early struggle for workers’ rights. Visitors see an Iver Johnson .32 Safety Hammer Revolver like the one used by Anarchist Leon Czolgosz in the assassination of President McKinley and a replica of a Globe Bomb that was presented in the murder trial of the men tried in connection with the Chicago Haymarket riot of 1886.

Visitors can peer into the mailboxes of several citizens to discover the likely targets of radical Anarchists’ bombs and watch rare silent footage of FBI agents and local police raiding homes and public venues during the “Palmer Raids,” which were authorized by then Attorney General A Mitchell Palmer after his own home was targeted. The voices of Palmer and labor reform movement activist Jane Addams challenge visitors to consider whether the government’s actions were appropriate or excessive.

WORLD WAR: 1935 – 1945
An almost forgotten World War II event — a Japanese pilot who, after participating in the attack on Pearl Harbor, terrorized the remote Hawaiian island of Niihau with the aid of a Japanese American — symbolizes the public hysteria that can result from any act of terror. Swept aside in the aftermath of the shocking attack on Pearl Harbor, this incident supported public fears about the loyalty of Japanese Americans. Visitors pass the pilot’s plane wreckage and examine everyday objects like department store advertisements to see if they contain coded enemy messages. Through the barbed wire fence of an internment camp, Ernest Hiroshige, an American born in the camp, urges visitors to contemplate the excessiveness of the government actions and public response to the incarceration of thousands of Japanese Americans during World War II.

SUBVERSION: 1945 – 1956
This section delves into the “Red Scare” – the fear of the spread of communism that swept through the U.S. during the Cold War.

Visitors enter the office of an FBI agent in the 1950s and explore the actions citizens and the government took to confront the communist threat. A mock communist takeover and an actual Department of Defense film depicting how life would change if communism became a way of life in America plays on an overhead screen. Visitors can flip through declassified highlights of FBI files compiled on many famous Americans. The documents from actress/comedienne Lucille Ball’s file are also on display; visitors can decide for themselves whether she was an active Communist Party member.

PROTEST: 1969 - 1976
A large photomural of the destruction left after the Vietnam War protest organization Weather Underground’s bombing of the Senate wing of the U.S. Capitol looms over visitors as the social upheavals of the 1970s are recalled. Protests over the war in Vietnam and civil rights turned violent during the “days of rage,” when extremist groups, such as the Weather Underground Organization and the Black Liberation Army, carried out acts of terror.

Standing in front of shattered glass and graffiti watching an exclusive interview with former Weather Underground member Bernardine Dohrn, visitors learn about the bombings and other acts of violence undertaken by groups challenging the government authority and policies. The film also explores the FBI’s response to that violence, which included widespread domestic investigations; the results of the public outcry to that response; and the eventual restrictions imposed on the FBI.

EXTREMISM: 1992 - Present
Here the Oklahoma City bombing, the deadliest act of terrorism on U.S. soil in the 20th century is explored. This event awakened Americans to the threat posed by domestic right-wing extremists. Visitors hear William Pierce, leader of the neo-Nazi group National Alliance, state his view that citizen rebellion is the duty of every American. Visitors look inside the suburban home of a militia member where everyday items such as fertilizer and fuel oil are converted into bomb-making materials. They also walk by a Militiamen closet outfitted with combat arms and battle kit. A 2003 map marking the locations of active hate groups, anti-government groups and militia groups serves as a stark reminder that domestic extremists still pose a threat to the American public.

TERRORISM: 1980 - Present
The film “Under Siege” delves into the national security of America in the aftermath of 9/11. It explores initiatives taken by the U.S. government to root out terrorist elements in this country and abroad, and how these measures have irrevocably changed the everyday lives of Americans. The film includes exclusive interviews with leading experts in terrorism and security.

Visitors can answer survey questions about their views on terrorism and homeland security. On display as visitors leave the exhibit is twisted metal from the planes that hit the World Trade Center in New York City on 9/11.

THE ENEMY WITHIN is presented locally by Chesapeake Energy Corporation, Devon Energy Corporation, Kerr-McGee Corporation and The Oklahoman. Additional support has been provided by the Bezalel Foundation, BlueCross BlueShield of Oklahoma, Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, Inasmuch Foundation and Merrick Foundation. Admission to this special exhibit is free with general Memorial Museum admission. Admission to the Memorial Museum is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors and $6 for students. Special rates and programs are available for school groups of 10 or more students and adult groups of 20 or more. Memorial Museum hours are Monday – Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Ticket sales end daily at 5 p.m.
The Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum was created to honor “those who were killed, those who survived and those changed forever” by the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. The Memorial and Museum are dedicated to educating visitors about the impact of violence, informing about events surrounding the bombing, and inspiring hope and healing through lessons learned by those affected.
For more information on the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum, call 888.542.HOPE or visit

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