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NAOMI NATALE (Founder and Director, "One Million Bones"): From the beginning, our goal was to collect a million handmade bones that would all be installed on the National Mall.

(speaking to students) We’re going to start by rolling out a log...

When you make something with your hands, it changes the way you feel, which changes the way you think, which changes the way you act.

Naomi Natale

You know, I’ve made bones in temples, in churches, out in the street.

Everybody brings their own history with them, you know. They bring their own experiences, their own understanding of what does a bone mean to them, and what do our connections to each other mean to us.

RABBI M. BRUCE LUSTIG (Senior Rabbi, Washington Hebrew Congregation): I’m a child of a Holocaust survivor and so, when I saw the imagery of the bones, it evoked so many emotional feelings.

People of faith, there’s no belief that is worth anything that doesn’t have a corollary action. And so, if we believe that we should stand up for the people of Darfur, the South Sudan, Congo, Burma, all of these places where genocide has taken place, it's important that we act as well.

Rabbi M. Bruce Lustig

(Rabbi Lustig on National Mall): Sons and daughters, carry these bones. Let the souls of the millions who have died speak to us and speak through us. We all share the same bones. No matter your creed, no matter your color, we are all created in the image of God.

NATALE: The experience of carrying the bone and laying it out, it’s kind of like a journey from where you pick it up and where it goes. It’s very much of, like, a meditative experience, holding it.

If we can accept this idea that we belong to each other, then we can recognize our responsibility to one another.

EVE LUSTIG: My grandmother and great-uncle on my dad’s side are survivors of the Holocaust. Just being Jewish, you know, the Holocaust is a part of who I am, it’s a part of my tradition and part of my life. And there are so many people that didn’t survive, did not have a proper burial or their bodies weren’t found. This is a way, to me, of sort of honoring them.

NATALE: When I think about so many issues that are facing our world, I think, you know, the most successful solutions that we’ll come up with are ones where people can see the small but very significant role that they can play within that movement.

RABBI LUSTIG: Hopefully, in our children’s generation there won’t be a need for us to have consciousness-raising events about genocide, that on earth there will be no genocide.

One Million Bones

One Million Bones was a public art installation of 1,000,000 bones on the National Mall in Washington, DC, over the weekend of June 8-10, 2013. It served as “a visible petition” and “a collaborative site of conscience,” according to organizer The Art of Revolution, to raise awareness of genocides and atrocities around the world and to remember victims and survivors in Sudan, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burma, Somalia, and Syria.

  • KBenart

    This must have been a very emotional event for those who saw the visual representation of these bones. We must not give up the fight against these atrocities. I am reminded of a speech given in 1912 during Abdul-Baha’s (son of prophet-founder of Baha’i Faith) visit to Paris, France:

    “There is nothing so heart-breaking and terrible as an outburst of human savagery!

    I charge you all that each one of you concentrate all the thoughts of your heart on love and unity. When a thought of war comes, oppose it by a stronger thought of peace. A thought of hatred must be destroyed by a more powerful thought of love. Thoughts of war bring destruction to all harmony, well-being, restfulness and content.

    Thoughts of love are constructive of brotherhood, peace, friendship, and happiness.

    When soldiers of the world draw their swords to kill, soldiers of God clasp each other’s hands! So may all the savagery of man disappear by the Mercy of God, working through the pure in heart and the sincere of soul. Do not think the peace of the world an ideal impossible to attain!

    Nothing is impossible to the Divine Benevolence of God.

    If you desire with all your heart, friendship with every race on earth, your thought, spiritual and positive, will spread; it will become the desire of others, growing stronger and stronger, until it reaches the minds of all men.

    Do not despair! Work steadily. Sincerity and love will conquer hate. How many seemingly impossible events are coming to pass in these days! Set your faces steadily towards the Light of the World. Show love to all; ‘Love is the breath of the Holy Spirit in the heart of Man’. Take courage! God never forsakes His children who strive and work and pray! Let your hearts be filled with the strenuous desire that tranquillity and harmony may encircle all this warring world. So will success crown your efforts, and with the universal brotherhood will come the Kingdom of God in peace and goodwill.” (Paris Talks)