What began as a lesson so children could see how enormous 1.5 million is, Ellie Schiller reached out from the Chabad of Myrtle Beach to the world asking for small paper butterflies to represent each child that died in the Holocaust.
The 1998 butterfly project, inspired from “I Never Saw Another Butterfly” poem, came full circle on Sunday, May 1, 2016.
Hundreds attended the unveiling and dedication of the Butterfly Memorial Monument on Holocaust Remembrance Day near Crabtree Gymnasium in The Market Common section of Myrtle Beach.
Schiller’s husband Hugo, a Holocaust survivor, helped his wife with the project.
School children from around the world sent in crayon-colored butterflies that were displayed at the Chabad off Oak Street in 1998. The Butterfly Memorial Monument is a permanent structure to honor those who died in the Holocaust.
A crowd of about 200 were kissed by an unexpected rainfall the mayor described as “tears from Heaven” Sunday during an afternoon unveiling ceremony for the city’s newest Holocaust remembrance monument.
A few in the crowd started to leave as the light drizzle morphed into a light rain.
“Don’t panic and leave. Think of this as tears from Heaven of those who lost their lives as we celebrate this opportunity to unveil this memorial,” said Mayor John Rhodes.
The brief shower gave way to sunlight before the ceremony’s end. Breaking through the clouds, the beams of light gleamed off of the stone monument’s butterfly wings as the sheets that veiled it were removed.
Ellie Schiller, a former social studies teacher at Chabad Jewish Academy, said the same weather pattern greeted her unveiling of 1.5 million paper butterflies nearly 20 years ago.
Schiller asked her students in 1998 to create 1.5 million paper butterflies so they could visualize the amount of children killed in the Holocaust.
And long before the birth of social media – the assignment went viral spreading in newspapers, news casts and word-of-mouth reports around the world. People across America and other foreign lands sent butterflies to Schiller’s class.
The monument shows a butterfly breaking out of its concrete enclosure. It was inspired by Schiller’s assignment and stands at the Grand Park Athletic Complex across from Crabtree Gymnasium.
The memorial was the brainchild of local author Joy Glunt, who wrote about Schiller’s classroom assignment that caught the world’s attention.
The drops began to fall as Schiller’s husband and Holocaust survivor Hugo Schiller described the violence and unrest that deeply scarred his generation and the turmoil that continues to haunt the world today.
Read more here: Myrtle Beach Online