With the opening of the 9/11 Memorial in New York, this past week, we have all been reminded of the importance of public areas of grieving. The WTC site features two pools set in the footprints of the World Trade Center towers that fell. The pools include cascading waterfalls and—perhaps most importantly—the names of each and every person who died that day. Also part of the landscape are the “Living Trees,” including a pear tree that survived the attack.
The following article about public spaces of remembrances is reproduced from Traveler magazine, published by the National Geographic Society.
Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, Germany. The gently sloping 4.7 acre swath of land in Berlin near the Brandenburg Gate memorializes the horrors of the Holocaust. Visitors walk through a thought-provoking thicket of 2,711 concrete blocks that rise one to 16 feet high.
Choeung Ek, Cambodia. Better known as the Killing Fields, this mass grave south of the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh, is where the Khmer Rouge killed up to 17,000 people in the 1970s. Encased in a Buddhist stup—made with transparent acrylic—are 8,000 human skulls.
Memorial to the Victims of Communism, Czech Republic. In Prague, seven bronze figures descend a flight of stairs, each appearing more decayed than the last—symbol of the dehumanizing toll of four decades of Communist rule. The bronze strip in the stars gives grim numbers.
House of Slaves, Senegal. These Dutch-built slave quarters on Goree Island, a UNESCO World Heritage site, are both a memorial and a museum, a stark reminder of the countless Africans sold into slavery near here from 1536 to 1848. Many exited through the house’s Door of No Return.
Gettysburg Battlefield, Pennsylvania. At the site of the 1863 Civil War battle that claimed 51,000 lives, the granite neoclassical Pennsylvania State Memorial stands out. Even more profound is Soldiers National Cemetary. Nearby, President Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg address.
The photogaph at the top is part of the Oklahoma Memorial, with each empty chair representing an individual lost in the bombing of over a decade ago.