NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Charleston International Airport unveiled a new addition to its facility honoring the lives of the victims and survivors of the Mother Emanuel AME Church Shooting in 2015.
The Mother Emanuel AME Tribute and Art Exhibit opened to the public Saturday morning.
In March 2016, leaders with the Charleston County Aviation Authority released the conceptual plan for the area, including a space for reflection and contemplation.
Margaret Seidler is the Chair of the Charleston County Aviation Authority Tribute Committee who spearheaded the project on the board's behalf. The memorial will be one of the first things people see when they get off the plane and exit the gate area.
"We want them to remember what happened here as well as to be inspired," Seidler said. "What our intent was to show to the rest of the world and not to forget how this community responded to one of the most horrific crimes in our nation."
Airport officials, board members and the design engineers were there Saturday morning for the presentation.
"We want this to be a place of remembrance, a place of inspiration to our visitors, and a place for those that call the Lowcountry home to celebrate this remarkable community," Seidler said.
The memorial is located in the Central Hall across from the Arrivals area. The focal point is a 2x5 foot high stained glass window pane, depicting Mother Emanuel AME and nine white doves. A glass partition, where the stained glass hangs, separates the memorial from a small seating area where airport visitors can sit and view the memorial.
In the center of the 400-square-foot space is a round table, encased in glass with a Bible open to the Book of Mark, Chapter 4, verses 13-20, which the Bible Study group was reading on the night of the shooting. It also includes Rev. and Senator Clementa Pinckney's Bible, the pastor of the church who was one of the nine killed.
The memorial also features photographs taken by Dan Xeller of Charleston. His images of the community response after the shootings appeared in Southern Living magazine.
The exhibit features a painting by local artist Johnathan Green, Pinckney's cousin. Green painted it before the shooting, but it includes nine birds: seven black birds and two shadow images symbolic of the nine lives taken.
Richard Lundeen is an architect for Mead & Hunt and played a large role in the exhibit's design.
"All the elements of the tribute are from local artisans and artists within the community that volunteered a lot of their time, their efforts to be a part of this," Lundeen said.
Mead & Hunt donated its design and architectural services. In addition, about 24 local companies provided various services for the project, most are small and minority business enterprises.
Hymns selected by the survivors play in the exhibit space.
Planning for the memorial began a few months after the shooting in 2015. Money to pay for the $175,000 project was raised through private donations.
Mark and Vanessa Pohl are visiting Charleston from Indiana and visited the exhibit when they got off their plane.
"After we looked at things I said it's wonderful how much beauty can come out of tragedy and we all see that in our own lives sometimes," Mark said.