PARSIPPANY — Parsippany-Troy Hills Mayor James Barbero proclaimed Sunday, July 31 to be Raoul Wallenberg Day. He encourages all citizens to foster the message of Courage and Compassion.
Raoul Gustaf Wallenberg (born August 4, 1912, disappeared January 17, 1945) was a Swedish architect, businessman, diplomat, and humanitarian. He is widely celebrated for saving tens of thousands of Jews in Nazi-occupied Hungary during the Holocaust from German Nazis and Hungarian Fascists during the later stages of World War II. While serving as Sweden’s special envoy in Budapest between July and December 1944, Wallenberg issued protective passports and sheltered Jews in buildings designated as Swedish territory.
During the ceremony Artist Edward Adams addressed the audience and explained how he was the fortunate artist chosen to fulfill the vision of the committee determined to pay homage to a man who helped save over 100,000 lives, Raoul Wallenberg. The design of the sculpture began as an idea and grew into a 12-inch model shown to the selection committee. Once commissioned, it matured into a thirteen foot fabricated bronze sculpture weighing over 1500 pounds. Today, Courage and Compassion is one of 31 Wallenberg monuments in twelve countries on five continents.
“Over 20 years ago, it was the collaborative efforts of many people who possessed the foresight, wisdom, and dedication that made this sculpture become a reality; a sculpture that honors the deeds of a heroic man,” said Dr. Edward M. Adams.
Adams stated “As I was imagining and designing this sculpture, I asked myself, “Do I design a sculpture that pays tribute to a particular man or do I design a sculpture that honors the human qualities that provoked him to accomplish extraordinary deeds? I chose to create a sculpture that pays tribute to the Courage and Compassion that inspired Raoul Wallenberg … a sculpture that celebrates the strength of this man’s character and the impact of his deeds. In truth, Raoul Wallenberg was an ordinary person. He was the same as you and I. Yet, he was compelled to act upon powerful qualities stirring inside his humanity, qualities that made a difference between life and death. In the face of indifference, in the midst of brutality, and standing in the center of profound suffering, Raoul Wallenberg confronted that suffering and acted to relieve it. So today we focus on a sculpture, and we honor a man who performed exceptional deeds. But in fact, we all stand in tribute to two human qualities inside each and every one of us, … Courage and Compassion. Are we any less challenged by the conditions in the world today? Are we less likely to be indifferent to the suffering of others? Are we any less vulnerable to be blamed, diminished of our dignity, or persecuted for our beliefs? I think the answer is no.”
This sculpture has value beyond aesthetics, it will be because every time you see it, play near it, drive by it, or read about it, you may feel uneasy inside. if you do, this uneasy feeling may be evoked by a question that poses a challenge inside your own heart and mind.
This question asks, “Do I have the courage to see and acknowledge suffering inside myself and others and if so, do I have the compassion to take small steps in everyday life or large steps like Raoul Wallenberg to relieve or eliminate that suffering?” The moment you ask that disquieted question and accept the challenge, this sculpture takes on meaning. It will do what only art can. It holds a mirror that reflects how deep our darkness can fall and how high our better angels can fly. For the sake of us all and generations to come, I hope the courage and compassion residing inside you, and me, and the persons standing all around us, … will prevail, said Adams.