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Remembering Tragic Events: Creating a Permanent Memorial

NCJ Number
Date Published
July 2019
5 pages

This "tip sheet" from the National Mass Violence Victimization Resource Center provides guidance for those involved in planning and building a permanent memorial to honor victims/survivors of mass violence incidents (MVIs).


Such memorials are important in stimulating remembrance of and support for victims/survivors of an MVI; however, what affected individuals and communities want and how they feel may change over time. Consequently, the time frame for decisions about a permanent memorial may be a controversial issue. Any concerns must be addressed throughout the planning process. In order to ensure clarity, it is important to differentiate between fundraising that directly serves the needs of MVI victims and fundraising for the creation of a permanent memorial. Using resources to meet diverse victim needs should be identified and addressed prior to an initiative to create a permanent memorial. Another consideration is whether there is an active investigation or prosecution related to the MVI. The likely involvement of MVI survivors in such cases will limit their involvement in memorial planning. A discussion of "mission statements" for the memorial provides examples of such statements from the Oklahoma City Memorial Foundation and the Platte Canyon High School in Colorado. Examples of "vision statements" for memorials are also provided in the tip sheet. A section on "What Not to Do" advises avoiding a memorial that is too controversial and/or too excessive for the intended audience. Also, avoid any actions that preclude appropriate recognition of any people impacted by the MVI. Website addresses are provided for four organizations that have planned, created, and currently supervise MVI memorials.