To the people of Russia: Thank you

Just like most of you, I get lots of unsolicited e-mail messages. Some of them I look at, and some of them I don’t. But I received one recently that really caught my attention about something called the “Monument to the Struggle Against World Terrorism.”

The monument is titled “Tear Drop,” and it is located on a peninsula at Bayonne Harbor, N.J., in full view of the Statue of Liberty and the former site of the World Trade Center. It was created to honor those who died in the Sept. 11, 2001, tragedies, as well as the 1993 World Trade Center bombings. Furthermore, it was a gift to the United States of America by the people of Russia!

Snopes verifies the story, and my other research confirms it. But before I received that message, I had not heard anything about it. Had you?

The idea for the monument came from Zurab Tsereteli, who is one of Russia’s most prominent and prolific sculptors, designers and architects, and his works are found all over the world. One of them, titled “Good Defeats Evil,” is a sculpture created from scrapped American and Soviet missiles, and it resides on the grounds of the United Nations building in New York.

The “Tear Drop” monument is more than 100 feet tall, and weighs 175 tons. It was shipped here from Russia in six sections, assembled by a group of Russian artisans, and dedicated to the American people as a symbol of solidarity in the fight against world terrorism. Inscribed on the 11-sided base of the monument are the names of the 3,000 people who lost their lives in the 1993 and 9/11 terrorist acts. The dedication ceremony took place on Sept. 11, 2006.

Tsereteli said that he was struck by the outpouring of grief on the streets of Moscow when word came of the 9/11 tragedies, and this caused the image of a tear to form in his mind.

The nickel-plated teardrop itself weighs 4 tons, and is about 40 feet high.

The remainder of the monument is of granite. But the lasting message, in addition to the sadness and grief over the senseless loss of life, is a hope for the future that is free from terror.

I know all Americans join together with Russians and much of the rest of the world in the sharing of this hope. But why has this wonderful gift not been more heavily publicized? The people of France rightfully continue to receive credit and appreciation for their gift of the Statue of Liberty so long ago, why not the people of Russia? Could it be that since we have a history of conflict with the government of the former Soviet Union, and still have some disagreements with the present government of Russia, we do not wish to publicize anything good and generous about their people?

Unfortunately, that is the way our politics has evolved today. If one political party has a good idea, the other tends to oppose it just so that the first will not receive any credit. Has politics made us sink so low here with the people of Russia as well? I hope not, but I’m having difficulty coming up with an alternative explanation.

But since so few of us seem to have been aware of this monument, I am going to send a long overdue note of thanks on behalf of our country to President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, expressing our heartfelt thanks to the people of Russia for this marvelous gesture of solidarity. In fact, this was such a noteworthy gift and message by the Russian people, maybe you will want to join me and send your own letters of appreciation as well.

Judge Jim Gray (Ret.)