A bright blue sky could not hide the gray shadows of pain that marked the eyes of the families of the victims of the "9/11" terrorist attack that found themselves in Arazim Park in Jerusalem on Thursday. They had gathered together with international dignitaries and Israeli leaders to dedicate a new monument to the their loved ones, who lost their lives in the senseless 2001 attack on America by the Al Qaeda terrorist organization.Strange how the people of Israel can design and implement a memorial to the victims of terror that will grow and bloom as time goes by. How strange that the designers never considered facing it towards Jerusalem, just on the road to the city. Nor does it face Mecca as the Flight 93 Memorial does.
Designed by award-winning Israeli artist Eliezer Weishoff and commissioned by the Jewish National Fund-USA/Keren Kayemet L'Israel (JNF-USA/KKL), the memorial depicts the World Trade Center and Pentagon through sculpture and landscape architecture.
People from nations around the world lost their lives that morning, among them a number of Jews, including Israelis. Fewer Jewish New Yorkers than usual were present in the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001, however, because many had stopped on their way to work to vote in fiercely-contested local primary elections.
The 30-foot high bronze sculpture commemorating the event and honoring the memories of the victims is composed of a waving American flag transformed into a memorial flame. The monument rests on a base of gray granite, part of which comes from the original Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in downtown Manhattan, destroyed in the mammoth airliner attack eight years ago. The sculpture, which was funded by the Bronka Stavsky Rabin Weintraub Trust, is surrounded by a circular, crater-like plaza and reflection area tiled in stone.
The Jerusalem monument is one of the first major international memorials to mark the terrible event and honor the memory of its victims -- and the only site outside of New York to recognize the names of every victim of the attack.
Memorial donor and native New Yorker Edward Blank explained that he funded the project as a means of expressing the myriad conflicting feelings he struggled with after the tragedy. "My wife died just a few days before 9/11," he said, "and then the whole world was sent reeling by the events of that day. I was looking for a meritorious way to recognize the many feelings I was having, and this memorial was the perfect fit."
U.S. Ambassador to Israel James Cunningham attended the ceremony dedicating the monument, as did U.S. Congressman Erik Paulsen, who led a delegation from the United States. They were joined by Israeli Cabinet ministers, Knesset members and many families of the victims of 9/11, as well as other distinguished guests.
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When you visit Israel, take a moment outside of Jerusalem and visit this memorial. It is well worth your time and trouble to do so.