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A MEMORIAL TO VICTIMS OF HOMICIDE

2011 Honor Program

by Bob Ward, Board Member

“Rather than bearing the burden alone, the survivors’ loss is represented and cared for in the Garden of Peace. And the burden is shared by all of us.”

--Toni Troop, Garden of Peace Board Chair

 

On September 15, 2011, under skies threatening rain, hundreds proudly gathered on an open plaza, remembering and honoring the names of 52 homicide victims added to Boston’s Garden of Peace Memorial. The annual ceremony, held for the seventh consecutive year, makes good on the Garden’s promise to share the burden of loss now etched 743 times.

Dr. Earl Grollman, the nationally recognized crisis intervention counselor, author, long time Rabbi at Belmont’s Temple Beth el Center, and educator, provided the evening’s keynote address. His words were simple, direct, and profound. “Death ends a life. Death doesn’t end a relationship. Death isn’t only about the people who died. Death is about the people who are left behind,” Dr. Grollman said.

Dr. Grollman’s work has taken him to scenes of unimaginable mass grief, places like Oklahoma City and Columbine. He has counseled survivors in large groups and one on one. He has witnessed the anguish caused by murder in all of its forms. Yet he told his audience, “You are my rabbis, my teachers.” He added, “There is no such thing as closure. That’s for mortgages. We don’t get over it. Ever.”

This Garden of Peace Honors Program was held almost exactly ten years after the 911 Terror attacks. The two planes used to attack New York City’s World Trade Center were hijacked after taking off from Boston’s Logan International Airport.

Victims of the 9/11 attacks are represented in the Garden of Peace. One of them is Anna Williams Allison. Anna, 48, was a passenger on Flight 11, headed to Los Angeles for a business meeting. Her husband, Blake Allison drove Anna to Logan that morning. At the Garden of Peace, Blake remembered his wife’s love for life, her “unrestrained laugh,” and her boundless optimism.

Blake Allison expressed the hope that in death, Anna’s life would continue to lead the way out of the despair of sadness. “If we chose to embrace life and move onward by following her example, then she will always be with us. And we will have the possibility of not staying in, but travelling beyond, this tragic time,” Blake Allison said.

It is a true and sad fact that the scars created by homicide never heal. Survivors are permanently changed. Carl Schiller discovered that on the morning of Friday, January 13, 2006, when his beloved older brother, his best friend, Edward Schiller was shot to death in his car as he arrived for work in Newton, Massachusetts.

Carl Schiller described Edward as his life compass, and on that sad day, in one brutal act, Carl’s compass was stolen. In 2008 and 2009, two men were convicted for Edward Schiller’s murder. For Carl Schiller, a husband and father of three young children, the pain of his brother’s murder is never far. But Carl Schiller has taken that pain and created a living memorial for his slain brother. After Edward’s death, Carl left his well paying job, went back to school to study criminal justice, and now works for the Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office, the same office that prosecuted his brother’s killers.

Edward Schiller’s name is inscribed in the Garden of Peace. Carl Schiller said he hopes the Garden’s message will never be forgotten. “The Garden of Peace will ensure that generations to come will see the evidence of the lives stolen. And maybe, society will realize how senseless, how unnecessary these deaths were. And maybe, we’ll evolve beyond killing each other as a solution to our problems,” Schiller said.

As the afternoon light waned and the shadows cast by the buildings surrounding the Garden of Peace grew, candles lit by the families and friends of those left behind, illuminated the darkness.  People wept. They prayed. They remembered.

Each name in the Garden of Peace honors a life. And each name memorializes the grief caused by homicide.  As the tiny candles flickered against the night, the words of Dr. Earl Grollman provided lasting comfort.

 “Where there is loss, there is grief.  Grief is an emotion; it is not a disease. Grief is nature’s way of healing a broken heart. Grief is love not ever, ever ready to say goodbye,”Dr. Grollman remarked.

And in the Garden of Peace, that burden of grief is a burden shared.

Click here to listen to the speeches.

Click here to view the photo gallery.

Click here to see the invitation and annoucement.

Click here to download the program book.

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