The Monument for Victims of Hostile Acts: Honor Inscribed In Stone

  The Mid-East has a reputation for being a hotbed of terrorism, obviously due to a clash of three major religions that frequently makes the evening news. The State of Israel is no exception to this rule, having experienced acts of terroristic violence for well over a hundred years. Prior to the establishment of a Jewish state in 1948, the intention of this bloodshed was to “weaken the spirit” of the Jewish people and thwart the creation of a national homeland, whereas since 1948 the objective has been to destroy the very existence of Israel as a political state. In the words of the Organization of Israel’s Terror Victims, “the front line and home front have become one and have placed the entire country at the frontlines of this bloody battle against terror.”  Blunt facts that have been traced back to the year 1920 make this statement brutally true, as evident in research conducted by the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise – which lists a total of 3,715 human beings that have lost their lives to acts of terrorism between 1920 and 2012. Professor Gabriel Ben-Dor, director of the Center for National Defense Research in Israel, has presented startling information that contains even more significance to this fact – stating that 1 in 5 Israelis, or about 1.27 million people, have lost someone to acts of terror.

An Israeli Postage Stamp Commemorates The Monument for Victims of Hostile Acts

Therefore, it is no accident that the State of Israel has taken efforts to reach out to families that have lost loved ones, making sure that the memory of the fallen is preserved forever. The Organization of Israel’s Terror Victims was established specifically for that purpose, with the mission to “assist the victims of terror in their effort to continue with their lives and bear the social, financial, cultural and spiritual burden of their daily struggle and personal survival following the tragic experience.”  Uniquely reaching out to this huge segment of society, this organization established a monument specifically dedicated to the remembrance of those that have died at the hands of terrorists.

The Victims of Acts of Terror Memorial, established in 1998, is but one part of a large national site of commemoration located on Mount Herzl, which lies on the western side of Jerusalem close to the Jerusalem Forest. The mount is named after Theodor Herzl – founder of modern Israel – and the location of Yad Vashem, the national monument dedicated to the Holocaust. Herzl’s tomb lies at the very top of the mount, and Yad Vashem contains the Holocaust History Museum, the Children’s Memorial, the Hall of Remembrance, and the Museum of Holocaust Art. Similar to Arlington National Cemetery, there is also a national burial ground located on Mount Herzl dedicated to Israel’s war dead. As a sign of the deep respect the State of Israel bestows on victims of terror, the official day of remembrance now has the designation as the “Remembrance Day for Fallen Soldiers and the Victims of Terror.” In this obvious manner, those that have fallen in acts of terrorism are held in the same respect as soldiers that have fallen on the battlefield. As an even deeper indication of this esteem, in April of 2012 the Israeli Cabinet approved the construction of the Hall of Names Memorial, which “will list the 22,993 names of those who have been killed fighting in Israel’s declared and undeclared wars and those slain in terrorist attacks.” The names of those to be honored will be permanently etched on brick.

The List Of Names Inscribed On The Victims Of Acts of Terror Memorial Includes All Those That Have Died, Even Non-Jews

The Victims of Acts of Terror Memorial is built of strong stone, upon which the names of all those that have fallen to terrorism are inscribed. The list of names includes all those that have died in acts of terrorism, even non-Jews. Designed by the Israeli architects Moshe and Rita Oren, with the aid and cooperation of the National Insurance Institute and the Ministry of Defense, the monument is intended to denote “the stand of the Jewish People against those wishing to demolish its existence.” With this memorial, the Israelis place their trust in the words of the prophets – as they do with so much in life:

“Thus said the Lord: A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her children refusing to be comforted for her children, because they are not. Thus said the Lord: Refrain your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears; for your work shall be rewarded, said the Lord; and they shall come again from the land of the enemy. And there is hope in your end, said the Lord, and your children shall come again to their own border” (Jeremiah Chapter 31, verses 15-17).

Those that support this website believe it is time for such a monument in the United States, a country that has also lost thousands to acts of terror. But you can communicate your opinion through our poll, which you will find below.

You can help promote the establishment of a monument dedicated to all American victims of terrorism, whether they died at home or abroad, by clicking the link above and signing the petition. Nothing is asked but your signature for a good cause.

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Monumental Expression: Dark Elegy and the Edification of Hope

   If you have ever misplaced something of importance, then you are familiar with the feeling of loss and regret.  In accepting the death of a loved one this sense of loss runs even deeper, reaching to the very core of your existence. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, a Swiss American psychiatrist, explained the process of grief in terms of five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally – acceptance. At first, denial of the recent death serves as a shock absorber or defense mechanism. However, the most obvious and common feeling to occur is anger, as the person moves through psychological crisis– and this will often give way to meditative thoughts on how things could have been different had other circumstances been in play. Despair and depression set in as the grieving person struggles to find meaning in the death of a loved one, and finally there is a realization of acceptance and the ability to move on. For each person, the realization of this acceptance is different, involving a path to insight that is varied and unique. Many of those reading this article would say they have experienced this path and can identify with Kübler-Ross.

Stages Of Grief – Elizabeth Kübler-Ross

The surviving family members of those that have perished in a terrorist attack are no different, but the process is much more intense and involves a psychological need for catharsis – otherwise risking the onset of post traumatic stress disorder or some other psychological scar. In short, a person can easily be enveloped in darkness without a positive reference point to pull them through. No one exemplifies this better than Suse Ellen Lowenstein, a New York artist who designed and created perhaps the most cathartic edification of grief in the modern world, especially in reference to acts of terrorism. She has been a strong proponent for a national monument dedicated to the victims of terrorism, and she has very personal reasons for doing so.

On December 21, 1988, Lowenstein’s son boarded a plane at London’s Heathrow Airport, bound for New York’s JFK International Airport and the celebration of Christmas. Not long after takeoff, a bomb detonated, raining debris on Lockerbie, Scotland and killing all 259 people onboard, as well as 11 people on the ground. An artist by trade, Lowenstein sought catharsis through sculpting, casting herself in the pose she found herself when she first heard the news that her young son had perished – in a process very similar to the counseling technique of “family sculpting.” Furthermore she sought other women who had lost loved ones in the Lockerbie bombing, casting their unique poses just has she had cast her own. Lowenstein’s description of her technique can be viewed in a video posted elsewhere on this site.  As Jerry Adler of Newsweek Magazine so aptly described it, her finished work – called “Dark Elegy” – edifies kneeling women with indistinct faces in various poses, “clutching at the air or cradling their heads.” Lowenstein petitioned the U.S. Senate to make her work of labor the national monument dedicated to all victims of terrorism, but her efforts were turned away.

There is a unique point of debate when considering a monument to the victims of terrorism. As Adler also noted in 2001, for the families of the victims it is “obvious that an American citizen who was killed by terrorists was not just a casualty, but an unwitting martyr to his country.” For many average Americans, victims of terrorism are simply fatalities, similar to murder victims or those that have died in traffic accidents. In contrast, to the families that have lost family members in a senseless act of terror, they are heroes to be honored and remembered for the sacrifice of their lives. It is a sense of death – and the acceptance of death – that moves beyond normal grief and reaches into the realm of martyrdom.

A Portion Of Dark Elegy – Syracuse University

Surviving family members like Lowenstein struggle to find a deeper meaning in the death of their loved one – and this is a struggle that stretches the mind and reaches inward to the very depths of existential thought concerning the meaning of life. “When terrorism strikes and it kills your son, or your husband or your wife, everyone is stripped truly to the same level. There is no skin color; there are no rich people or poor people. All people are stripped to the same level of humanity,” Lowenstein has explained. Shaken to the very core of your soul by an act of violence, what positive can you find in life to give meaning to the senseless and tragic death of someone you love so much? The answer can be found in the obvious need for peace that these deaths present to a nation and the whole world. Like Lowenstein’s sculpture, a national monument dedicated to all victims of terrorism should carry a universal appeal for peace. Shining like a guiding light in the midst of darkness, it would serve as a reminder of the senseless hate and vengeance that claimed the lives of unsuspecting victims  – and a message to all peace loving people in the world that such acts have no place in society. In that sense, it should be a monument to hope – something that makes you reach deeper into your soul to find the positive in the midst of tragedy. In Lowenstein’s own words, a national monument to the victims of terrorism would not only honor those that have died, but also serve as “a universal appeal for peace and dignity for all victims of senseless hate and vengeance called terrorism  – and will be a beacon for all peace loving people.”

Many thanks to Suse Lowenstein for her efforts in proofreading this article. You can visit her website by clicking this link.

You can help promote the establishment of a monument dedicated to all American victims of terrorism, whether they died at home or abroad, by clicking the link above and signing the petition. Nothing is asked but your signature for a good cause. If you have already signed, who else do you know that could?

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