After years of planning by the survivors of the Charleston, South Carolina church massacre, architectural designs for the public memorial have been finalized.
The tribute was designed by Michael Arad, the planner behind the $700 million National September 11 Memorial in New York.
Arad, a former Israeli soldier, knows all too well the pain of senseless violence and was asked to submit an essay on forgiveness along with his design sketches.
The 40-something draftsman once told the New York Times he wanted this particular memorial “to promote a sense of community, that when you walk into this space, you become a member of this congregation."
Plans for the memorial come just three years after nine members of a Bible study were gunned down by white supremacist Dylann Roof at the historic Mother Emanuel AME Church.
Roof sat through the entire Bible teaching and even took part in the prayer before opening fire on the group.
Court records describe the shooter as a 9th-grade dropout who showed no remorse for the murders he committed.
The Washington Post reports Roof wrote in a jailhouse journal, “I would like to make it crystal clear: I do not regret what I did,” Roof wrote. “I am not sorry. I have not shed a tear for the innocent people I killed.”
Though the shooter was unrepentant, the Architects Newspaper reports the tribute will not highlight the hate behind the massacre but rather “showcase how the Charleston community and members of the congregation came together in a way that no one expected—with grace and forgiveness.”
The memorial will celebrate the nine lives lost that fateful day as well as those of the five victims who survived and the church family that continues to heal.
The memorial will consist of two parts: a Memorial Courtyard and a Survivor’s Courtyard.
The site will have benches with high arc backs situated in a circular setting which mimics the way the nine Bible study members sat during weekly Wednesday night services.
According to the Emanuel Nine Memorial fund, the plans also include a marble fountain bearing the names of the nine who were lost with water flowing “from a cross-shaped source, filling the basin and gently spilling over the names of the nine.”
The design was unveiled earlier this week at a service marking the 200th anniversary of the church.
The event kicked off a fundraising effort to gather the roughly $10 million needed to complete the project.
In a video chronicling the church response to this tragic act of hatred, Rev. Eric Manning, senior pastor of Mother Emanuel AME Church, said we must remember that "love is always going to be stronger than hate."