A stark reminder of genocide on the Mall

WASHINGTON – They may only be made of clay, plaster and paper, but the scene of a million “human” bones laid on the grounds of the National Mall this weekend is causing quite a stir.

Hundreds of volunteers joined the One Million Bones (OMB) organization Saturday to create a symbolic mass grave of bones, in an effort to draw attention to genocide.

“The thing is, a lot of people don’t know,” says artist Naomi Natale, the project leader. “What we hope is that this is not only a way to introduce them to what’s happening, but connect them emotionally to what’s happening.”

Some of the replica bones, which included skulls, were white; some, a dirty gray color. In the view from the Capitol Building they line the grass in two columns that run from 3rd to 7th Streets, with eight blocks of bones in each column.

The organization says more than 100,000 people from each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as 30 countries, took part in making the bones.

OMB says their goal is to encourage students to grapple with genocide and mass atrocities in a way that sparks them into action.

“This is really a project about recognition and remembrance, and inspiring action,” Natale says.

Sarah Horner, 17, traveled from Bellfonte, Pa., with some high school classmates to lay down bones.

“I just hope that people, even if they’re walking by and they’re not participating, that they can realize what we’re doing, and it’ll bring awareness to this issue,” Horner says.

A candlelight vigil will be held for genocide victims on Sunday at 7:30 p.m.

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