PARKLAND (CBSMiami) – Thousands of tiny, metal, maroon eagles fan out on a wall of the Chabad of Parkland.
Dozens of the eagles form the shape of 17 larger eagles, appearing to soar towards and a through a heart, made up of more eagles still. From a distance or up close, the artwork is an uplifting sight.
It is a remembrance of the 17 victims who died at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School two years ago as well as the more than 3,000 students enrolled at the school that tragic day.
“Every student that was there that day has been affected for a lifetime,” said Rabbi Shuey Biston.
Biston commissioned the work shortly after the Parkland shooting. He was in Jerusalem on a trip and was moved by the artwork of Israeli artist Joel Amit. It took close to two years but Amit finished the work and installed it at the Chabad of Parkland earlier this month, in time for a ceremony to mark two years since the tragedy.
Lori and Ilan Alhadeff attended a memorial ceremony at the Chabad on Thursday night to honor the victims and unveil the artwork. During the unveiling, Biston asked them to place their daughter Alyssa’s eagle in the artwork. Alyssa was one of the MSD victims and the Chabad of Parkland is the family’s temple.
“It really just takes my breath away,” Lori said of the artwork. “We tragically lost 17 but know that you need to live for them, love for them and move on and do amazing things for them.”
Hunter Pollack also attended the ceremony. He represented his sister Meadow, who was also murdered at MSD. He placed Meadow’s eagle in the artwork.
“It’s beautiful and inspirational and I know my sister would be so proud to see artwork that has her name on it that is so stunning like this,” he said.
Biston says the eagles symbolize the victims soaring high, watching over those down below. He also hopes it symbolizes the way Parkland came together in the wake of the shooting to support one another and bring something positive out of something so painful.
“The entire city of Parkland came together with random acts of kindness and goodness,” he said. “A day of love, a day of meditation, a day of reflection. Every time that we look at this wall it lends you to believe in the good, to think of something beyond ourselves to try to impact the community in a positive way.”
Friday marks two years since the shooting. Across Parkland and Broward County there will be a day of service and love to commemorate February 14. Students at schools will do service projects, there will be moments of silence and flags will fly at half-staff across the state.
Pollack hopes everyone takes the time to celebrate their loved ones.
“I want them to wake up and be reminded that they have friends and family to hug and say, ‘I love you,’” he said. “It’s Valentine’s Day. It’s a little ironic but don’t forget to tell your family and friends that you love them.”