The Book of Remembrance is a sculpture honoring the memory of civilians killed in wars. Jill Hunting proposed the idea to the United States Institute of Peace for its new headquarters, currently under construction in Washington, D.C.
Jill conceived of the idea for the Book of Remembrance in 2007. That fall, she went to Washington to read names on the 25th anniversary of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Afterward, she met with Jan Scruggs, the founder of The Wall, and discussed with him her idea for acknowledging civilian casualties.
The following month, Jill proposed the idea to the United States Institute of Peace (USIP).
The United States Institute of Peace
Until 2007, Jill, like millions of other Americans, had not heard of the Institute. She learned that it officially came into being in 1984, when President Ronald Reagan signed the United States Institute of Peace Act into law. The Institute is independent and nonpartisan, and funded by Congress.
Its goals, as stated on the website www.usip.org, are “to help prevent and resolve violent international conflicts, promote post-conflict stability and development, and increase conflict management capacity, tools, and intellectual capital worldwide. The Institute does this by empowering others with knowledge, skills, and resources, as well as by directly engaging in peace building efforts around the globe.”
The new headquarters are currently under construction on the northwest corner of the National Mall. Designed by the distinguished architectural firm Moshe Safdie and Associates, the headquarters will occupy one of Washington’s most prominent pieces of real estate, Braddock’s Rock, facing the Lincoln Memorial. A dominant exterior feature of the five-story contemporary building is a symbolic dove’s wing, fabricated of glass and steel, arcing downward from the rooftop to the visitors’ entrance.
Jill Hunting at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Peace Institute, on June 5, 2008. Speakers included President George Bush, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Four U.S. secretaries of state and many other dignitaries attended.
Help Build the Book of Remembrance
The nature of violent conflict has changed in the modern era. While the number of armed conflicts has decreased and conventional warfare is more limited, the safety and well being of civilians is threatened as never before. Children are recruited to kill, humanitarian workers are taken hostage, journalists are executed, and sexual violence is systematically practiced as a terror tactic. Individuals and families are caught in the crossfire of small-arms and light-weapons warfare in the countryside and cities.
War is not, nor has it ever been, only about battles and soldiers. This all-too-common way of thinking about war has to stop. We can stop it in our lifetime by making a point of remembering the real toll of war on the human family.
The Institute's headquarters project is a public-private partnership between the U.S. government and the American public. In 2004 Congress appropriated $100 million for construction costs. The remaining funds are being raised from private sources. These funds do not include the $800,000.00 needed to build the Book of Remembrance.
To build The Book, we need your support. Together we will bring awareness to and honor the memory of all civilians who have lost their lives in violent conflict.
All monies raised will go toward the cost of materials, fabrication, transportation, and installation of the Book of Remembrance memorial sculpture. Jill Hunting, sculptor Paula Stern, and artist Sandy Smith-Garces are generously donating their time to the project.
Unveiling of The Book will take place after the opening of the new USIP headquarters building scheduled for the Spring of 2011.
For further information, or to inquire about naming opportunities associated with making a major gift of $50,000.00 or more, contact the Chief Development Officer, USIP, 1200 17th Street NW, Washington, DC, 20036, telephone 202.429.1983.
History of the Book of Remembrance Project
On November 19, 2007, Jill Hunting introduced the idea for a Book of Remembrance in a public radio commentary for San Francisco’s NPR affiliate, KQED. In her “Perspectives” piece, one of a series devoted to Vietnam and war in general, she proposed that a sculpture be created to recognize the sacrifice of civilians killed in war and to broaden our understanding of war’s toll on humanity.
The enthusiastic response to her idea encouraged Jill to propose that the United States Institute of Peace include such a sculpture at its new headquarters on the “War and Peace” corner of the National Mall.
Jill’s vision for the Book of Remembrance is a large, closed bronze book in which are symbolically (not literally) inscribed the names of all civilians killed in wars.
Unlike the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Book of Remembrance will have no directory of names. Its power lies in its symbolism, not in the enumeration or literal depiction of the victims of violent conflict.
The Book of Remembrance is apolitical and nonpartisan. As a work of art, its defining quality is humility: war has claimed so many civilians that we cannot name or number them. Consistent with this message, no donor’s name will appear on the sculpture, but only a simple statement of its meaning, such as:
Within this Book of Remembrance are inscribed the names
of every civilian ever claimed by war.
The Book of Remembrance is a unifying work of art. It discourages factioning by different groups wanting to separately recognize fallen colleagues. Instead, it focuses attention on the greater issue of war’s toll on all civilians. It reinforces a priori the Institute’s goals to promote understanding and peace building.
Designers for the Book of Remembrance
Paula Stern and Sandy Smith-Garcés are co-designers of the Book of Remembrance.
Washington resident Paula Stern is a former chairwoman of the U. S. International Trade Commission and was a Brookings Institution scholar. She is principal of The Stern Group, an economic analysis and trade advisory firm. An accomplished sculptor for many years, Paula showed her work publicly for the first time after 9/11, when she realized that her vocational work could be reduced to ashes, whereas her bronzes could withstand fire. She began showing her sculpture in galleries soon afterward.
Sketches for the Book of Remembrance were prepared by Sandy Smith-Garcés, a Boston-area designer and Paula’s niece and design colleague.
Paula was approached to join the project after she and Jill Hunting met through Paula’s husband, the economist Paul London. Paul was an acquaintance of Jill’s brother in Vietnam.
Help Start National Tolling Day
The United States should set aside one day a year when we honor the memory of civilians killed in wars.
I propose that the day be November 12, following our observance of Veterans Day.
Every city, town, and college campus with a church bell can ring it twelve times at noon, to remind us of the true toll of war on the human family. Can you and a friend or family member help start National Tolling Day where you live?