A dedication ceremony is set for Tuesday, June 27, at 10:30 a.m. for a just-completed memorial to honor and remember the 30 victims who were slain during the Atlanta Child Murders from 1979 to 1981.

Mayor Andre Dickens, former Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, City Council members, victims’ families, the memorial’s artist, and other key figures will unveil and dedicate the artwork on the grounds of Atlanta City Hall.

Created by internationally renowned artist Gordon Huether, Eternal Flame is a 55-foot-long remembrance wall with the name of each victim mounted next to an accompanying shelf for mourners to place special mementos in honor of a child lost too soon.

Seating faces the expansive wall, where visitors can spend time, contemplate, and pay their respects. The wall’s composition of Corten steel gives the memorial a strong, enduring impact as it weathers into a rust-colored patina.

At the far end of the memorial, a flame burns as an enduring tribute to the victims and all those affected.

Centered within the semi-enclosed space is a granite inlay engraved with poet, playwright and novelist Pearl Cleage’s A Poem for Our Children.

Mayor Bottoms established the Atlanta Children’s Memorial Task Force in 2020 to achieve a long-desired goal of the families to have a lasting memorial for the slain children.

Huether said in an interview with Rough Draft from his studio in Napa, CA that creating the memorial was “emotional” and “intense.”

“I wanted to create a tribute to the victims and to their families,” Huether said. “A testament that these lost lives still matter. I wanted to create a space that was healing, comforting, and would give the viewer a sense of closure.”

Gordon Huether

Huether said he researched the Atlanta Child Murders by watching documentaries, YouTube videos, and reading articles. He also met with family members of the victims when he came to Atlanta to present his idea for the memorial.

“It was a deep dive into the subject,” he said. “I would go to bed thinking about it, dream about it, and wake up with it.”

The artist said the power of the memorial is in its minimalism. “The oval shape of it is designed to make you feel like you’re being embraced and held. On the shelves, you can leave a votive candle, flowers or a teddy bear.”

And although the memorial isn’t officially open yet, Huether said he was notified by the city that people have already been leaving flowers on the shelves. “The memorial is already doing what it was designed to do.”

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.