When you are born, you cry, and the world rejoices.
When you die, you rejoice, and the world cries.
Most memorials remind us of those who have sacrificed their lives for a greater cause. Other memorials, like ‘Shoes on the Danube’ to the National September 11 in New York City, are meant to commemorate those who have died and also to remind us of more abstract concepts, like the loss of humanity within systems that have grown too big.
Check out some of the most breathtaking and thought-provoking memorials from around the world.
Memorial for Unborn Children, Slovakia
As an art student, Martin Hudáček of Slovakia was moved to create a sculpture to draw attention to the devastation abortion can bring to the woman, and to the fact that through the love and mercy of God, reconciliation and healing are possible.
The sculpture shows a woman in great sorrow grieving her abortion. The second figure in the work is the aborted child, presented as a young child, who in a very touching, healing way, comes to the mother, to offer forgiveness.
Shoes on the Danube, Budapest, Hungary
Conceived by film director Can Togay, he created it on the east bank of the Danube River with sculptor Gyula Pauer to honor the people (mainly Budapest Jews) who were killed by fascist Arrow Cross militiamen in Budapest during World War II. They were ordered to take off their shoes, and were shot at the edge of the water so that their bodies fell into the river and were carried away. It represents their shoes left behind on the bank.
“The composition titled ‘Shoes on the Danube Bank’ gives remembrance to the 3,500 people, 800 of them Jews, who were shot into the Danube during the time of the Arrow Cross terror. The sculptor created sixty pairs of period-appropriate shoes out of iron. The shoes are attached to the stone embankment, and behind them lies a 40 meter long, 70 cm high stone bench. At three points are cast iron signs, with the following text in Hungarian, English, and Hebrew: “To the memory of the victims shot into the Danube by Arrow Cross militiamen in 1944–45.
Pro-Life – Art installation, Riga, Latvia
Between August and October 2012 the small Baltic country of Latvia has been the place of a creative and effective Pro-life campaign aimed at reopening the public debate over abortion, in a country with a very high level of abortion and a law demographic rate. A specific aim of the campaign is also to introduce in the law on sexual and reproductive health the principle that “the child is protected from the day of conception”, and to make pre-abortion consultation systematic.
The campaign became well publicized with the inauguration early September of an art installation in one of the major streets at the heart of Riga old town displaying 27 sculptures of small babies symbolizing the 27 abortions that take place each day in Latvia. Each baby sculpture is accompanied by a text in Latvian, English and Russian, telling the true story of an aborted child and the reason for his “mother’s choice”.
Statue of Hachiko, Japan
Even in a country that adores its pets, none have captured the hearts of Japanese animal-lovers like Hachiko. The Akita dog touched the hearts of people across the nation by devotedly waiting every day for more than nine years in front of Tokyo’s Shibuya Station for his master to return from work, not knowing that he had died from a cerebral hemorrhage and wouldn’t be coming back.
Today, a statue of Hachiko stands in Shibuya, showing the dog patiently waiting. But while the bittersweet quality of the story made Hachiko famous, it overlooks the fact that before his master’s passing, the two would happily reunite every evening and walk home together. Now, it’s that moment’s turn to be immortalized, with a new statue showing Hachiko as he’s rarely been depicted before, bursting with joy upon seeing his owner.
The National September 11 Memorial and Museum, New York City, US
The 9/11 Memorial Pool was constructed at the former location of the World Trade Center. The plaza features two reflecting pools inscribed with the names of those killed on Sept. 11, 2001.
Honoring the lives of those who were lost is at the heart of our mission. Occupying eight of the 16 acres at the World Trade Center, the Memorial is a tribute to the past and a place of hope for the future.
Book burning memorial, Berlin, Germany
If you are walking from the boulevard Unter den Linden to the Bebelplatz, you will probably see people who watch together on a spot on the floor. Only on closer inspection you can identify a sunken glass plate between the pavement that provides a view into a room full of empty bookshelves. The art work of the Israeli artist Micha Ullman is called “Library”.
The subterranean bookshelves could accommodate about 20,000 books – and remind at the approximately 20,000 books, which the Nazis burnt on May 10th, 1933 on this place: works by journalists, writers, scientists and philosophers, seen as a threat to the Nazi ideology – in former terminology such as “literature, which undermines the moral and religious foundations of our nation” or “writings who glorify the Weimar Republic.” Even works by communist thinkers should be wiped out in this “action against the un-German spirit”. Among the most maligned authors were e. g. Erich Kaestner, Sigmund Freud, Karl Marx, Heinrich and Klaus Mann, Rosa Luxemburg, August Bebel, Bertha von Suttner and Stefan Zweig.
Monument to the unknown Pavlov’s dog in St. Petersburg, Russia
There is a monument to the unknown dog in St. Petersburg near the Institute of Experimental Medicine, where Pavlov headed the physiology laboratory for many years. It was commissioned and partially designed by the physiologist himself to honor the animals, which died for the sake of scientific progress.
If given detailed accounts of this scientist’s experiments with dogs, today’s animal rights activists would likely cry out and picket in front of his lab with placards featuring pictures of heart-melting puppies. He surgically externalized parts of the gastrointestinal tract like the saliva gland, and made artificial openings in the stomach and intestines to take probes of different body fluids and measure their secretion. Nonetheless, this very research a century ago won Ivan Pavlov a Nobel Prize, the first one for a Russian scientist.