By: Tom o’Dare / My Horry News
In 1998, Chabad Jewish Academy Social Studies teacher Ellie Schiller had a dream about a way to honor the million and a half children who perished in the Holocaust.
Her idea was to have 1.5 million paper butterflies displayed to honor each child. And she was going to have all of them collected in three months.
The idea for using butterflies came from a poem called “I Never Saw Another Butterfly,” written by a child interred in a German concentration camp.
When she told her family, friends and co-workers about her grand plan, they said “ok, good luck with that.”
Not one to be deterred about anything once she set her mind to it, Schiller began making plans for her massive project. She was encouraged everyday by her husband Hugo, a Holocaust survivor.
Publicity about the project began to spread, first locally, then nationally and internationally.
Schiller and her students began receiving a few butterflies a week from across the country. But as word of the project went out, the numbers grew so much that the local post office would send at least one “butterfly” truck a day to the small school on Oak Street in Myrtle Beach. Sometimes the truck would be carrying upwards of 30,000 to 40,000 paper butterflies a trip.
When all was said and done, she received her 1.5 million butterflies—and then some from all 50 states and a number of foreign countries.
To honor this achievement and to offer remembrance for the children lost in the Holocaust, a Butterfly Memorial Monument will be constructed in the Grand Park near Market Common.
A groundbreaking ceremony for the monument that is slated for completion on May 1 was held across the parking lot from the Crabtree Gymnasium.
Joy Glunt, who wrote a book about the project, headed up a committee set up several years to bring the monument to fruition.
Glunt said the monument will offer education and history of what happened in the Holocaust and to instill in our youth how important it is to be vigilant and keep the hard won freedoms we have in America.
“With this monument, we plan to teach that there is no room in a civilized society for causeless hatred, killing children, bullying, anti-Semitism and genocide,” she added.
Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes said it was only fitting to have the memorial to the children located in spot where children play everyday.
The city donated the site and also provided some of the funding for the monument.
Schiller said she was pleased with the construction of the memorial and is still amazed at how everything and everyone came together in 1998 to make her butterfly dream come true.