MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Construction of a monument to honor the lives of those lost during the Holocaust is underway at Grand Park in The Market Common.
Thursday morning, city leaders, organizers of the project and members of the Jewish community were present for the groundbreaking ceremony. The future site of the monument will at the Grand Park Athletic Complex across from Crabtree Memorial Gymnasium.
The purpose of the monument is to remember the children and their families that died in the Holocaust.
Hugo Schiller, a Holocaust survivor, attended the groundbreaking ceremony.
"I was nine when they deported us to concentration camps, and I am the only one in my family that survived," explained Schiller.
In 1998, a Myrtle Beach teacher, Ellie Schiller Chabad, asked her class to make paper butterflies in memory of the children who were killed in the Holocaust. The idea took flight, and soon people and schools all over the world helped the students make more than 1,500,000 butterflies.
On Holocaust Remembrance Day, they spread the butterflies on a field.
Joy Glunt, a teacher that helped with the project, also wrote a book about it. She serves on the memorial committee that is working with the city to build the permanent butterfly monument inspired by the children's actions 18 years ago.
"When we bring our children to the Myrtle Beach area, they can go over to the picnic tables, they can play at the park and they come see the permanent butterfly memorial monument," said Glunt.
The city of Myrtle Beach authorized the construction of the educational monument in 2011.
"What we hope to do with this bit of history is educate our youth on how important it is to keep the freedoms we have," said Glunt.
Glunt added they plan to teach people there is no room in a civilized society for hatred, killing children, bullying and anti-Semitism.
"The children in the Holocaust, in the concentration camps, saw the butterfly as a symbol of freedom and beauty. The last things they saw in this world were things that were ugly - death and starvation - so we are making a beautiful butterfly for them," she said.
For Schiller, he wants the tragic story of what happened to his people to be told to coming generations.
"The more we can make this story last after we are gone, it will help to possibly prevent it from happening in the future," he said.
Organizers said the monument will be made of Italian marble and it currently traveling from Italy.
The monument is scheduled to be unveiled and dedicated on Holocaust Remembrance Day, May 1, at 1 p.m., at Grand Park Athletic Complex.