On Wednesday, the United States Embassy near the Liberian capital, Monrovia, unveiled a War Memorial in honor of 200,000 people that were killed at Gray-stone during the country’s nearly 14 years of bloodbath.
While unveiling the War Memorial, United States Ambassador to Liberia, Deborah R. Malac, said the War Memorial was crafted by Jallah Kollie, a Liberian. She stressed that Kollie used his experience and vision to craft four panels about Liberia during the war and after.
The first panel shows the killing, maiming and destruction of the bloody civil war; the second depicts the establishment of peace and holding of free, democratic elections; while the third panel shows the era of reconstruction and rebuilding and the last panel shows the reconciliation among the warring factions of the Liberian people.
Ambassador Malac said the sculpture now resides in a place of honor in front of the main gate of the new Embassy compound as a monument to those who lost their lives in the bloody civil war and as a silent reminder that it should never happen again.
The second sculpture was done in bronze by U.S. sculptors Peter Winant and Tom Ashcraft. It is one of four oversized school desk chairs; around the sculptures are pepper birds, the national bird and folktale symbol to demonstrate the bright promise the future holds for the country and its people.
According to Ambassador Malac, the symbolism of the chairs and pepper birds carries over into the community in tangible ways. She said in Wenneh Town near Kakata in Margibi County, ‘working man’ collectively partnered with the Chicago Bright Foundation to build a play ground where children and families from surrounding schools and neighborhood can gather to socialize and share their similarities and differences through play.
We concur with US Secretary of State, John Kerry, that the art in front of the Embassy has played an active diplomatic role for more than 50 years by creating meaningful cultural exchanges through the visual arts.
We are very grateful to the Government and people of the United States for this worthy initiative because it is an honor to thousands of our kinsmen who lost their lives as a result of the nearly 14 years of senseless war.
In the same vein, we call on the Government of Liberia to emulate the good example of the US Government by honoring those who were killed during the civil conflict. Now that the people of the United States have taken the first step, let us join this effort by organizing appropriate programs or do something that will honor our brothers and sisters who lost their precious lives.
Again, we laud the US Embassy for the initiative and for being so thoughtful by honoring the dead and also remind all Liberians through our government to emulate this indelible gesture of the US Embassy.