General Dwight Eisenhower prepared to liberate Europe here in Alexandria. Years later, when the work was done, he visited the concentration camps of Nazi Germany and personally witnessed the atrocities that took place there.
“I made the visit deliberately,” Eisenhower said, “to be in a position to give firsthand evidence if there develops a tendency to change these allegations to merely propaganda.” He knew how easily we forget, how convenient it is sometimes. Eisenhower did not want to forget.
“Never shall I forget,” wrote Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel in his memoir, Night. “Never shall I forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky. Never shall I forget those flames which consumed my faith forever,” Wiesel wrote.
Now, here in Alexandria, even these many decades later, we are compelled to never forget. The Alexandria Holocaust Memorial will be a place of hope, of meditation, of peace. It will be a solemn place of remembrance.
The Memorial site at the corner of Fourth and Elliott streets is dedicated to those who were lost but who will forever be remembered. The Alexandria Holocaust Memorial was built so that visitors could honor and remember the six million Jews - including one and one-half million children - who were killed in the Holocaust. It also honors the non-Jewish victims of the Holocaust, as well as victims of ethnic cleansing, genocide, or other forms of man's inhumanity to man in all places and times. The memorial recognizes the extraordinary efforts of the resistors and rescuers during the especially difficult times.
The obelisk is 18 feet high and weighs 15 tons. In Jewish tradition, the number 18 has an almost mystical significance. The Hebrew letters for 18 mean LIFE and are used often at happy occasions celebrating important events.
Thanks to many generous donors—Jews as well as citizens of many faiths and from many parts of the country—so many have given generously to insure the success of this endeavor. As a result of that success, additional funds have been set aside to insure that educational school programs can be a part of the Memorial’s mission.
Many local leaders have worked to raise funds for the Holocaust Memorial—again Jews and citizens of many faiths. But no one was more dedicated to its completion than Rabbi Emeritus Arny Task. His life’s work and his legacy includes the teaching of Holocaust studies to students and adults, the annual commemoration of the Holocaust, and recognition and support for survivors. He has played a major part in the realization of this monument.