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I've been tasked with drafting the text for a memorial plaque dedicated to group X. Group X was big, diverse, and had several hundred years of rich history. Amount of space I have is 2-3 sentences.

I don't want the memorial to be yet another "a whole bunch of people died in the Holocaust". I'm looking to give group X some individuality. But how do I do that in so little space?

Ideally, what I'd want the memorial to represent is "there was a whole bunch of history and culture bound up with group X, and we should remember that, not just that # people were killed".

On a memorial to a single person, one writes that person's main achievement. If it's to an event, like a battle, it can be summarised too. But what do I do with a big group?

  • did they all die in a single event? did they die doing something, trying to do something? what impact did their lives have? – ashleylee Jan 23 '19 at 20:43
  • @ashleylee Holocaust. – Galastel supports GoFundMonica Jan 23 '19 at 20:53
  • What were there doing before the Holocaust? Do you have access to any event or story that could have linked them together before this? It could help. – kikirex Jan 24 '19 at 13:53
  • @kikirex I have access to a 400-page tome that's just the tip of the iceberg, and a lot more about specific people. That's sort of my problem - I have a huge amount of information, but only 2-3 sentences to squeeze it all into. (Can't make the question more specific due to an NDA). – Galastel supports GoFundMonica Jan 24 '19 at 14:26
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We remember them.

A common refrain in Jewish memorials. The idea that a person's existence counted and we will remember the person and focus on that.

Say her name. Say his name.

A modern, secular, version.

Of course you can't say their names in 2-3 sentences. Perhaps they will be named elsewhere on the memorial (that's a very common thing as well). But you can name their group. Did they all come from the same town? Was their history shared or do you mean they had their own individual histories? Were they all Rabbis? Or all people who had family who survived and immigrated to Israel?

Whatever it is, name it. Name what makes them special (and they are special in this way or there wouldn't be a memorial in the first place).

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What about using synecdoche (a part for the whole)?

Doctor X was a polymath, who invented the Y medical procedure and composed the epic opera Z. He was just one of the 300 people, representing 400 years of culture and history in country W, who were all brutally murdered on this spot by V as part of the purge of 19XX.

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Focus on the whatever was special about the group, and make your line at the end,

They loved and were loved, and shall not be forgotten.

It was a "policy" of my parents to speak often of the dead, even some that had suffered violent deaths, been murdered, died in car accidents, killed in war. It is something their remaining children (we've lost three) and grandchildren and great-grandchildren still do. The point in this is that the way one died should not dominate your memory of them; and the prominence of that death is something that must be weakened and overcome, by talking about it.

Their final day was one day in thousands of days; remember their accomplishments and triumphs, when they were happy, the funny things they did and said, and take the power away from that one day. Do not let their murderer steal that from you.

You do the same for the memorial; put aside their final days and talk about their life, and what was wonderful about it, and what people should remember about them. And IMO that does not include them dying horribly at the hands of monsters.

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Generally, I would start with "On this spot on/in [full date or year of deed] [event occured i.e. 500 people gave their lives for the Union][reson it matters in a big picture i.e. and the belief that all men are created equal/should be free/should not be a slave.] May we honor their memories/Continue their work/[Insert Pithy Pledge to remember for reasons here].

I would also recommend a famous quote either made by one of the participants or someone regarding them (i.e. "The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here." -Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address).

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