Thành phố Oakland - California - Mỹ là nơi có tượng đài bằng đồng của 25 Vĩ nhân Hòa Bình Thế giới, trong đó có Thiền sư Thích Nhất Hạnh.
Tượng đài với chi phí 8 triệu USD, được dựng phía Tây của Henry J. Kaiser Memorial Park, ngay trung tâm thành phố Oakland.
Đây là niềm tự hào không chỉ của cộng đồng Phật tử mà còn của dân tộc Việt Nam ta.
Remember Them Brings Oakland’s Downtown to Life
Just one section from “Remember Them” that honors 25 different humanitarians.
It has been just over a month since Oakland’s “Remember Them: Champions for Humanity” monument was unveiled, but steady streams of admiring spectators continue to gather around the sculpture to experience its brilliance.
The first three out of four sections of the first monument to honor diversity in the United States were unveiled on Sept. 6 in Henry J. Kaiser Memorial Park.
“Oakland is a perfect location for ‘Remember Them,’” said Oakland Mayor Jean Quan. “Through the years, Oakland has been the place where many nonprofit and humanitarian efforts got their start and we have so many local’s heroes.”
“Remember Them” is a one-of-a-kind, educational monument that honors 25 humanitarians, including Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa, Chief Joseph, Thich Nhat Hanh, Nelson Mandela, Elie Wiesel, Rosa Parks and many others.
Oakland native Mario Chiodo developed the project after 9/11 to serve as an expression of how difficult times call forth humanity’s best efforts.
“Those events on that day pushed me to use my experience and natural ability as an artist to try and create an artwork monument dedicated to bringing all people to the conversation for a better humanity,” said Chiodo.
“The concept is to allow people to know those in history who took the positive approach of giving themselves up for the betterment of others,” explained Chiodo. “It seemed to me that those people in history who did extraordinary things under the most difficult of circumstances were just like you and me, and that concept can give hope to those with challenges in their lives, as well as potentially a better understanding between humans.”
Chiodo was also involved in the design and production of the jazz court for Harrah’s New Orleans, in which the history of Jazz was illustrated through his art.
His artwork can also be seen in casinos in Las Vegas, Niagara Falls and Sonoma County.
The Remember Them project has been a non-profit initiative of the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce Foundation for the past ten years.
“I originally thought it would take maybe two to three years to make this happen,” said Chiodo. “This was without a question the most difficult thing I have ever done and at times wondered if I would get through it.”
The entire sculpture stands 25 feet tall and, upon completion, will be 52 feet wide and cover 1,000 square feet. It is made up of over 40,000 pounds of bronze, which makes it the largest bronze sculpture in the West.
“I am just digesting it all,” said Oakland resident Jamar Seay. “I heard about the sculpture, but now that I’m seeing it, I think it will draw a lot of people from all over because we don’t have anything else this unique out here.”
Remember Them represents the first grouping of international humanitarians in the United States.
“The concept from the beginning was always about implementing positive art in areas that are not expected to have it,” said Chiodo. “Then it would be centered around those who made history through positive actions both locally and internationally.”
The base will be held together by 14 interlocking local Bay Area humanitarians, which shows that everyone can make a difference in their communities. These men and women also symbolize the seven continents of Earth, according to Chiodo.
This is the first time the famous “March on Selma” figures, Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Coretta Scott King and Ralph Abernathy, have been sculpted together in a public setting.
Chiodo’s monument is also the world’s largest sculpture of Maya Angelou, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Mother Teresa and Thich Nhat Hanh.
Another praiseworthy characteristic of Remember Them is a sculpture of books located at the base of the Angelou sculpture, emphasizing how important education was throughout the lives and work of the featured humanitarians.
“It’s perfection,” said Rev. Phillip A. Lewis, pastor of Oakland’s Israelite Missionary Baptist Church. “He is preaching to the community through his art. I hope young African-Americans and Hispanics can see this and it can strike a chord for peace in the community. It’s beautiful and it was very much needed here in Oakland.”
Chiodo is currently working on a special feature for the visually impaired, which will allow visitors to get the full experience by touching the faces of all 25 humanitarians in one place and reading descriptions in Braille.
The estimated cost for the monument upon completion is $8.25 million. Although only a portion has been unveiled, fundraising continues in order to reach the $2.25 million still needed to complete the project by summer 2012.
“We hope this will become an iconic symbol of the compassion, passion and commitment that Oakland and Oaklanders are known for and that it will bring people from all over the country and the world to experience Oakland’s wonderful human spirit,” said Quan.