Earlier this weekend, we had Neo-Nazis parading in a family-friendly park in Orlando. It is a park I frequent since it is about seven minutes from my house. The so-called park, Cranes Roost Park has always been a safe park full of families, elderly couples, and runners. As videos of this group dressed in red and black, chanting “We are Everywhere” and waving swastika flags surfaced, I felt sick to my stomach. I could feel the color draining from my face and my insides squirmed in disgust. Anyone who flies swastika flags stands for something evil (that or people really do not know their history).
A lot of us are lucky that we will never have to experience the suffering Jews endured at the hands of the Nazis, so to see a group of Neo-Nazis parading around is sickening. This alone brought memories back of my first visit to a Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C., I was quite young when I went to one and I remember leaving the museum in tears.
Then a few years ago, I ended up going to the Holocaust Memorial in Miami Beach, and as I walked through the memorial, my heart ached and my eyes burned as tears welled up. While yes, there are graphic images in the memorial and the statue itself is heart-wrenching, it is a good place to learn more about what happened to the Jews at the hands of the Nazis, and why you will get arrested in Germany for even daring to fly swastika flags.
Originally, I wasn’t going to write this whole thing along with the Holocaust Memorial in Miami Beach, but this very thing is what triggered me to want to write about the Holocaust Memorial.
Holocaust Memorial Miami Beach
When I went to the Holocaust Memorial, I didn’t know if I wanted to write about it. It was hard walking around the memorial without wanting to cry. I don’t have any Jews in my family, but people are people, and any pain other people endure is heart-wrenching.
Part of me thought that if I didn’t write about it, I’d be respecting the memorial (I tend to feel like there is a gray area when it comes to taking photos of memorials or graves), but after what I witnessed, I think we need to spread the word about the Holocaust Memorial in Miami Beach. This is part of history and it is one of the worst events to happen in history. I am a believer that if one tries to erase history, history will repeat itself, and the Holocaust Memorial serves not just in memory of the six million Jews who died during the Holocaust, but also as a reminder of the evil that took place.
How the Holocaust Memorial Started
The story of how the memorial started is quite interesting. There were actually people opposed to the memorial! This all started with a small group of Holocaust survivors, who got together to develop a permanent memorial in Miami for the six million Jews who perished at the hands of the Nazis. I won’t go through the whole story, but people objected to having this memorial stating it would make the city look somber. Others argued that it violated the separation of Church and State, arguing it was a religious monument. While yes, it happened to Jews, this is part of history. This event was in my history book. If you’d like to read more on the history of this memorial, you can find it here.
Visiting the Holocaust Memorial
If you’re looking to visit the Holocaust Memorial in Miami Beach, you can find it by typing 1933 Meridian Avenue into the GPS. Parking was a little tricky, but you can find metered parking on Elie Wiesel Way (19th Street) or in the parking lot directly behind the Memorial. There is additional parking available in the street garage as well. However, when I got there, I was able to park in the lot behind the Memorial.
While the Memorial is free to visit and open to the public 365 days a year, there are rules to follow such as:
- Eating, Drinking and Smoking are not permitted.
- Pets are not allowed
- No photoshoots unless you have permission
- Personal photos are welcomed
- Limit the use of cell phones while at the memorial
- Bicycles, Scooters, and Segways are not allowed on the grounds of the memorial
So what will you find at the Holocaust Memorial?
At first glance, you will see the large hand sculpture, which looks nice with the 200-foot-diameter water lily pond surrounding it. A closer look at the sculpture, you will see a heart-wrenching portrayal of the horrible event that took place. Then there is a series of black granite slabs etched with photographs of the tortured Holocaust history. There is also a memorial wall with the names of all the people who lost their lives. Aside from that there is a dome, a quote by Anne Frank on the wall, a tunnel illuminated by thin slats of sunlight, while the haunting voices of Israeli children sing songs from the Holocaust; and a series of sculptures of mothers, fathers, children with anguished expressions on their faces.
The Holocaust Memorial was both beautiful and sad. When I say beautiful, I am referring to the meditation garden, the water lily pond, and the beautiful architecture (They used Jerusalem stone for the plaza). But within the beauty is sadness. The names on the wall tore me to pieces as I read some of the names. The audio of Israeli children singing songs as I walked through the tunnel sent shivers down my spine. By the end of it, I was emotionally drained, but I also gained knowledge on some of the things I did not remember seeing in my history book.