DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa Holocaust Memorial in Des Moines evoked memories for many and hope from others that such atrocities will never be allowed to happen again.
The Des Moines Register reports (http://dmreg.co/1bZnw52 ) that more than 200 spectators watched Wednesday as the memorial was dedicated. The memorial is a series of four aluminum wall panels with photos and inscriptions.
The idea for the project formed several years ago when Judy Blank, executor of the Jacqueline and Myron Blank Foundation, learned that Iowa was one of only five states without a memorial to the Holocaust.
"We thought about it, and thought, 'Why shouldn't Iowa join the other states and be part of that community?'" Blank said.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Des Moines also helped make the project a reality.
Mark Finkelstein, community relations director for the federation, likened the memorial to "a song for all Iowans, harmonized by the voices of our diverse people, with words reflecting aspects of the Iowa experience, and it's time for Iowans to learn this new song."
The memorial honors the millions of people who perished in the Holocaust, including 6 million Jews. It also recognizes the survivors who made Iowa their home after the war and the Iowa soldiers who liberated the concentration camps.
"It is not a site that makes one consider past events alone," said Rabbi David Kaufman of Temple B'nai Jeshurun in Des Moines. "The memorial's greatest strength is that it makes each individual think, 'What can I do?'"
Gov. Terry Branstad, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds and several members of Iowa's Legislature attended the dedication.
Branstad praised the location of the memorial on the Iowa Capitol's West Terrace, where he said it is certain to get the attention of students as school groups walk between the state historical building and the Capitol.
"We hope that this can be an inspiration to generations to come, that this terrible tragedy will not reoccur," Branstad said.
Maj. Gen. Tim Orr, adjutant general of the Iowa National Guard, spoke of the "vital role" the guard played in Europe in World War II.
"To defeat Hitler, we mobilized all the strength we could muster," Orr said. "And through the relentless efforts of the many brave Iowans, we witnessed our finest hours as a military and indeed, as a state and as a nation."
Information from: The Des Moines Register, http://www.desmoinesregister.com