Bergen County Dedicates Memorial to Comfort Women
Inclement weather moves ceremony inside, but did not deter many from coming out for the dedication.
Despite the fact that the weather moved the dedication of the Comfort Women Memorial indoors, it did not prevent people from coming out to the ceremony.
The memorial, sponsored by the Comfort Women Memorial Committee, takes its place in front of the Bergen County Justice Center (Courthouse) beside monuments commemorating the Holocaust, Armenian Genocide, the Irish Great Hunger and African American Slavery.
County Executive Kathleen Donovan, calling this memorial "a long time coming," said it was dedicated to comfort women not only from Korea, but from all of the countries so affected.
Comfort women were women who were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese Imperial Armed Forces. According to the Comfort Women Memorial Committee, the monument honors approximately 200,000 enslaved women.
Donovan, speaking of her trip to South Korea last fall where she visited former comfort women at the Sharing House, said, "I cannot imagine the agony and the suffering that those women went through in the years of World War Two, but the dignity and grace of them now would astonish all of us."
When Donovan asked their permission to tell their story in a monument, they all said yes. They wanted the world to know their story.
"In some small way we are able to do that today with the unveiling and dedication of the Comfort Women Memorial," Donovan said.
Also speaking at the ceremony was Congressman Bill Pascrell. He, too, had the opportunity to meet with former comfort women when they visited Washington, D.C. He told the audience that the stories the women told of their ordeal "strengthen our commitment to the preservation of human rights."
Dongchan Kim, President of Korean American Civic Empowerment, which organized the campaign for the Comfort Women Memorial in Palisades Park, said, "By having the memorial at this location, the Bergen County government is officially recognizing the Comfort Women issue as the same kind of international human rights violation as the other four human rights abuses remembered by Bergen County in front of the Bergen County Courthouse."
Bergen County is home to the largest population of Korean-Americans. In 2012, election ballots were printed in Korean.
Other officials present at Friday's dedication were Sheriff Michael Saudino, Assemblyman Gordon Johnson, Freeholder Chairman David Ganz, Freeholder Vice Chairwoman Joan Voss, and Freeholders John Felice, John Mitchell, Steve Tanelli, Maura DiNicola and Tracy Silna Zur.