Sometimes the most amazing discoveries on our Road Trips occur completely by accident. And that was exactly the case with the Peoria Holocaust Memorial. But now that I have seen it I must say that monument is something you must experience if your travels take you through Peoria.
Our most recent trip included an overnight stay at the Courtyard Marriott in downtown Peoria. We have stayed there on several occasions, and we’ve also stayed in the beautiful adjoining hotel, the Marriott Pere Marquette. (Both hotels are great choices.)
I love the architecture found in Peoria…
We checked into our comfortable room, and after a short rest (remember…we’re no “spring chickens” even though we often act like it) we headed out to explore the city on foot.
We have spent several frigid nights in Peoria when we’ve started out on our Snowbird trips to Florida, but we’ve never had the luxury of a summertime stroll to the touristy Riverfront area of the city. So that’s exactly what we set out to do. It was a beautiful afternoon for a walk…especially since the path was all downhill..all the way to the river. (Now that’s MY kind of exercise!)
That’s when we stumbled across an unexpected monument that left me stunned and silent…The Peoria Holocaust Memorial. The Peoria Riverfront Museum and the Jewish Federation of Peoria joined hands to create this stunning display.
From a distance, the plexiglas columns appeared to be filled with small stones, but when we walked closer I realized each column was filled with…buttons! Buttons of all ages, shapes and sizes.
There are ELEVEN MILLION buttons in the display! Six million of those buttons represent the six million Jews who were slaughtered during the Holocaust, and the additional five million buttons represent the additional souls murdered who were considered “enemies of the state” including political and religious leaders, Roma gypsies, Serbians, Catholics, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, trade unionists, alcoholics, as well as handicapped people. (Each targeted group was forced to wear a different colored triangle to identify their “enemy” status.)
This Holocaust memorial is both stunning and eye opening.
The symbolism was profound as I realized each button was unique…just like the people who were killed during that awful chapter in history.
My later research turned up an incredible description of the symbolism of the buttons and the design of the memorial, and it’s absolutely worth reading. Click HERE for the complete story written earlier this year for Peoria Public Radio.
Yes…we never know exactly where our Road Trips will take us, but one thing we know for sure. Every bend in the road holds a promise…and sometimes much food for thought. And the Peoria Holocaust Memorial was certainly one of those discoveries.