Written on June 29, 2023
NAPA, CA | JUNE 28, 2023 – —
On Tuesday, June 27, a dedication event was held to commemorate the completion of a memorial honoring the 30 victims who tragically lost their young lives during the Atlanta Child Murders from 1979 to 1981. The memorial, known as the ‘Eternal Flame,’ was designed and built by acclaimed international artist Gordon Huether from Napa, CA. The public had the opportunity to witness the unveiling of this significant artwork during a morning ceremony. Present at the event were the artist himself, Mayor Andre Dickens, Former Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, City Council Members, the families of the victims, and members of the public.
The realization of this memorial was a deeply cherished objective shared by the victims’ families and elected officials alike. In 2019, then-Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms assembled the Atlanta Children’s Memorial Task Force, charged with the responsibility of developing a design that would appropriately honor the lives lost. Thanks to prompt funding and the selection of Huether as the sculptor, the community’s vision was successfully translated into this remarkable sculpture.
Mayor Andre Dickens duly acknowledged the pivotal role played by former Mayor Bottoms in the planning of the memorial.
“Art has a way to help heal a community from trauma that it has faced,” Dickens said. “So Mayor Bottoms recognized that art can help provide a way for us for this current and future generation to honor those that have passed away in this tragedy.” –Mayor Andre Dickens
The Eternal Flame memorial includes a 55-foot-long remembrance wall with the name of each victim mounted next to an accompanying shelf for mourners to place special mementos in honor of a child lost too soon. Seating faces the expansive wall, where visitors can spend time, contemplate, and pay their respects. The wall’s composition of Corten steel gives the memorial a strong, enduring impact as it weathers into a rust-colored patina.
At the far end of the memorial, an Eternal Flame burns as an enduring and inspiring tribute to the victims and all those affected. The semi-enclosed space creates a symbolic embrace meant to comfort and sustain visitors.
Centered within the semi-enclosed space is a granite inlay engraved with Pearl Cleage’s A Poem for Our Children, which was commissioned to commemorate the victims.
It means a lot to me because their memories are not in vain.
It is beautiful, a beautiful way to honor our loved ones.” –Family member
“I wanted to create a tribute to the victims and to their families,” Huether said. “A testament that these lost lives still matter. I wanted to create a space that was healing, comforting, and would give the viewer a sense of closure.” –Gordon Huether, Artist