Updated date:

The Tear Drop Memorial: A 9/11 Monument From Russia

I've been an online writer for more than 11 years. My articles typically focus on politics and history.

"To the Struggle Against World Terrorism" by Zurab Tsereteli

"To the Struggle Against World Terrorism" by Zurab Tsereteli

When you ask someone where they were on September 11, 2001, expect a reply filled with vivid details. Unlike most other days, 9/11 had an impact on every American's life, on the future of our country, and on the security of the world.

As a life-defining day, it ranks right up there with the day Neil Armstrong spoke to the world from the surface of the moon, "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind." It became as life-altering as the bullet fired from the sixth-floor window of Dallas' Texas School Book Depository on November 22, 1963. And, like all widely shared defining events, 9/11 has many monuments and memorials to convey the significance of that horrendous day to generations yet to be born.

WTC 9/11/2001

WTC 9/11/2001

Tear of Grief

One of the more controversial of all the 9/11 memorials is the Russian-inspired sculpture originally known as the "Tear of Grief". The forty-foot stainless steel replica of a teardrop suspended in a fractured 100-foot, 175-ton, bronze-clad tower now bears the official title "To the Struggle Against World Terrorism". This extraordinary work is a gift to the United States from the citizens of Russia and from the renowned sculptor Zurab Tsereteli.

Mr. Tsereteli first envisioned the image of the "Tear of Grief" on September 11 after he witnessed the horrific destruction of the World Trade Center on Moscow television and, later, as he drove past a gathering of crying Muscovites in front of the nearby US embassy. He began the design of the "Tear Drop Memorial" on that same day.

In another sculpture by Tsereteli, Saint George slays a nuclear-age dragon.

In another sculpture by Tsereteli, Saint George slays a nuclear-age dragon.

The Artist

Born in 1934, Zurab Tsereteli is the energetic president of the Russian Academy of Arts. He has been a controversial icon at the center of Russian and Soviet art for decades. His creative ingenuity is responsible for his worldwide fame, and his artistic vision has often led to a vortex of criticism in his own country.

His use of American and Soviet missiles scrap to create his sculpture of St. George at the United Nations brought him international acclaim. In stark contrast, there have also been serious threats to blow up his 165-foot sculpture of Peter the Great in downtown Moscow.

The Controversy

It is, therefore, not surprising that among all the 9/11 memorials, his would be one engulfed in a firestorm of controversy. Due to the support from former Jersey City Mayor Glenn Cunningham, the "Tear of Grief" monument committee was able to bypass many of the usual review requirements. The murmurs of opposition grew into an uproar, however, when the popular mayor died in May 2004.

Opponents and neighborhood groups quickly launched an aggressive campaign against the memorial. Residents, art groups, and civic associations joined together to derail the entire project. Local cultural arts groups condemned the sculpture as ''an insensitive, self-aggrandizing piece of pompousness by one of the world's blatant self-promoters.''

But Guy Catrillo, the former co-chairman of the stumbling 9/11 committee, may have turned the tide by suggesting that the "Tear of Grief" should not be considered a 9/11 monument but, rather, a statement about world terrorism. The official title was revised ''To the Struggle Against World Terrorism," and the project regained momentum.

Harbor View Park

Harbor View Park

The Project

In September 2005, Russian President Vladimir Putin was present in Bayonne, New Jersey, for the groundbreaking that launched the one-year construction project. The entire structure was designed and built in Russia, transported in pieces to the US, and assembled in Harbor View Park on the Peninsula at Bayonne Harbor. The remarkable view from this beautiful two-acre public park on the New Jersey side of New York Harbor includes both the World Trade Center in downtown Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty.

The completed sculpture was dedicated on 9/11/2006 in a ceremony attended by President Bill Clinton, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, Governor Jon Corzine, Senator Frank Lautenberg, Senator Robert Menendez, and family members of World Trade Center victims. Grammy award winner Leann Rimes was on hand to sing the National Anthem.

11-sided granite base

11-sided granite base

More Controversy

The 11-sided granite base of the sculpture listed 3,024 names of persons killed on the tragic September 11th in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania, in addition to six others who died in the World Trade Center bombing in 1993. The artist, unfortunately, used an outdated list. He failed to remove 43 names that were deleted from the official record between October 2003 and January 2004 when their actual deaths, and in some cases their existence, was not proven. As a result, criticism and controversy continued to swirl around this ten-story sculpture on the shores of New York Harbor.

Beyond the Controversy

Within the international arena of one-upmanship, the Russian gift of the "Tear of Grief" has captured a New York Harbor distinction that had long been held by the French. From now on, visitors sailing into the Port of New York will observe Russia’s "Tear Drop Memorial" off the port side before they see France’s Statue of Liberty standing proudly with her torch held high above Liberty Island.

This is, however, a shallow distinction. Besides rising above the controversy and overcoming the din of provincial opposition, there is another far more significant aspect to this sculpture. It stands today within sight of the World Trade Center as a permanent expression of grief and empathy from the citizens of a country considered to be a political enemy.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

Let's hear from you...

Quilligrapher (author) from New York on July 17, 2015:

@ colorfulone

I truly appreciate your visit to this hub. Yes, there was a lot of controversy over this monument but it is a beautiful work of art and a fitting memorial located on the New Jersey side of New York Harbor. Thank you for sharing your reaction to its stormy history. Q.

Susie Lehto from Minnesota on July 17, 2015:

The Tear is a beautiful monument and generous gift from the Russians. Zurab Tsereteli and his creation of what he was inspired to create are gifts to us and all man-kind.

I was taken back when I read, "43 names that were deleted from the official record between October 2003 and January 2004 when their actual deaths, and in some cases their existence". I had a physical reaction as my body bolted back, my gut wrenched and expelled a grunt.

Quilligrapher (author) from New York on September 12, 2014:

I am so grateful for your visit and for your share. Both are appreciated.

missirupp on September 04, 2014:

Shared on Google. Hope others see it.

louromano on March 25, 2012:

Wonderful hub. Great information !

Quilligrapher (author) from New York on January 02, 2012:

I am pleased to read your comment, Glenn. Your opinion is very important to me. If we peel away the layers of criticism and politics, we arrive at a sincere and heartfelt expression of sorrow from one group of human beings to another. Many thanks. Q.

Glenn Stok from Long Island, NY on January 01, 2012:

I remember you mentioning this to me at out last HubMeet. I found the full story very interesting. It's amazing how a simple change of title from "Tear Of Grief" to the revised "Struggle Against World Terrorism" helped the monument become accepted. It truly is a work of art and should be an appreciated gift from Russia and Zurab Tsereteli who designed it from the vision he immediately had of it on 9/11. It's wonderful that you wrote about this. Voted up and awesome.

Quilligrapher (author) from New York on September 30, 2011:

@ thelyricwriter

I appreciate your visit and your comments. Thank you.


Quilligrapher (author) from New York on September 30, 2011:


I wish I could forward your comments on to the Mr. Tsereteli. He would surely appreciate reading your praise for his work. Thank you for reading my work.


Richard Ricky Hale from West Virginia on September 29, 2011:

These are some very unique memorials. I see nothing wrong with it personally. Glad to know that Russia cares enough to build it in the first place for America. I am surprised that they haven't seeked revenge on him already. I do believe he is a created designer and I have heard of him, but not real well. You are a good writer and this hub has plenty of useful information.

Handlebar1 on September 26, 2011:

Mr. Tsertelli, I was just intorduced to your sculpture andthishub earlieer todayby my neighbor. Yoursculpture isamazing! I amsad ourgovernments cannot get out of the way of tre feelings of the people in our two countires. This was a pure gestures of frienship that never hit our media outlets. I didn't knodwa thing about thissirring memorial until oday. For that I am truly sorry.

I visited Blarus few years fter theChernoybldisster to distribute something like 12 metric tona of food andv mediccal supplies to a county that was victimized by that tragedy. Becacuse of the naure of the project, we got to spend time with the real peopled of the omer Soviet Union, and found out they were just like us, and I thought "thisis what I feard ro so many years?" It was sad to see how much our wo govenments haddone in the "ame of the people" that was all lies and mistruths. I madea friend there of a former communist paaty leader whom I have lost touch with oveer the years. Your memorial hasss reopened a desire in me to transend our governments and do what is right once again in the hope of finding a true peace among us all. Thank yoo for what you have done, I can't wait to see it in person.

Quilligrapher (author) from New York on September 10, 2011:

@RTalloni. I'm glad that you're glad. I appreciate your reading and commenting.Q.

RTalloni on September 10, 2011:

So glad you have highlighted this sculpture. The monument is important to the world.

Heidi from Gulf Coast, USA on September 14, 2010:

I did not even know this monument exists! I am adding your link to my 9-11 Rememberance hub.

What a touching gesture this monument is.

Thank you for sharing.

Quilligrapher (author) from New York on March 31, 2010:

Your very welcome, Brandy. I'm glad you found it informative. Q.

brandyBachmann on March 30, 2010:

thanks for writing about this sculpture, it's really eye opening

Quilligrapher (author) from New York on January 30, 2010:

Thanks for the read, Rochelle. I haven't been there. It is not easy to reach by auto and the setting is less then glamorous. The best view is from the harbor.

I'm so glad you came by.


Rochelle Frank from California Gold Country on January 27, 2010:

Thanks for writing about this-- Have you seen it in person? I had never heard about it before, either.

patspnn from NYC on January 13, 2010:

This was a great hub. I didn't know about the memorials that were given by the Russian People for this sad day.

Quilligrapher (author) from New York on November 02, 2009:

Thank you, Sandi, for stopping by and for leaving your kind comment. It was indeed my aim to shed some light into a dark corner.

Sandi 3m on November 02, 2009:

Wonderfully written and very touching. You have a way of getting a point across that I just love. This was very informative, I too had never heard about this and am grateful to have gotten to read it hear.

Quilligrapher (author) from New York on September 13, 2009:

You are very welcome, InfoHelp. Thank you for the read and for your kind comments.


Info Help from Chicago on September 12, 2009:

Great hub! I never knew about the Tear of Grief statue and I think that it shows the American people that countries such as Russia can indeed be there for us in thoughts through our grief. Thanks for sharing this information!

Quilligrapher (author) from New York on June 26, 2009:

Thank you, Hxprof, for your kind words about the artist and for expressing your caution about Putin.  Your quote from John McCain strikes me as being a little ironic. Did he forget that the first President George Bush, father of successor George W.,  was head of our CIA?  Thanks. I appreciate your comments.


Hxprof on June 26, 2009:

Great piece on a noteworthy event that gained virtually no news coverage. The artist had a hearfelt response to a tragic event, however, I don't trust Putin. John McCain said once, "When I look in the eyes of Putin I see three letters-KGB". Those might be among the few 'truthful words McCain has spoken as a politician.

wayne kenyon on June 24, 2009:

Great site! I am trying to keep the memories alive, building a memorial so to speak. It's all about "flashbulb memories" and how we will never forget this type of traumatic event. You can visit my site at https://hubpages.com/literature/Share-Your-911-Sto... Hope to see you there with some of your experiences.

Quilligrapher (author) from New York on June 22, 2009:

I certainly agree, ledefensetech. I am so gratefut for your comments.

ledefensetech from Cape Girardeau, MO on June 22, 2009:

Thanks again for the great hub. Although, I believe, we are living in a declining age; stories like this reinforce the timeless truth that we are all human and despite the differences between us we can all of us feel the others loss and honor that through memorials. Fifty years ago we were ready to annihilate the other in an orgy of thermonuclear destruction. From my own childhood i remember the Wall and the day it fell, ending those fears. To my regret, I don't think much of those days, being filled with foreboding for the future. If nothing else, gestures like this serve as reminders that things are never as dark as they first seem and that it truly is darkest before the dawn.

John Edward Svenson on May 16, 2009:

Sir I am 86 years young Fellow in the National Sculpture Society why have I never heard of this magnificent gift and sculpture. and the artist ??? Thank you SIR Hollywood trash rules the world.

sgtmarine on May 16, 2009:

I have never heard about nor have I ever seen. Got the pics in a E-mail. It is one of the most heart touching monuments I have seen. I the artist and his people. The Russian people understand what suffering is. Bless them all.

moonlake from America on May 01, 2009:

You know when I heard about this tear, Today!! It makes me sick the things that the news media won't tell us. They lost people in the towers why aren't they as anger about 911 as I am and will always be.

Thank you, Russia.

Quilligrapher (author) from New York on April 29, 2009:

Hello Cuppy,

Thanks for leaving a comment. There are lots of things going on in the world that never make it to the 7 o'clock news. This "good news" item is just one that never rose above the din of sensational news. I am pleased that you found my piece informative.


Cuppy on April 28, 2009:

What a truly inspiring piece of work. Regardless of the controversey I see no reason why this should not have been all over the news. It is truly awesome! Thanks so much! We needed this.

Quilligrapher (author) from New York on April 24, 2009:

Hi kh,

I think it is a remarkable gesture on the part of the Russion government and the Russion Academy of Arts. There was news coverage only not much of  it:

     Applebone, Peter.   "A Jersey City Teardrop for 9/11, Or a 10-Story Embarrassment?"    The New York Times.   30 June 2004.

    Finnegan, William.   "Monument."    The New Yorker.   25 June 2007.

    Associated Press.   "Bogus Names Feared on New Jersey Sept. 11 Monument."    FOX News.   28 July 2006.

    Associated Press.   "9/11 Memorial in New Jersey Honors 40 People Too Many."    The New York Times.   10 September 2006.

    CNN.   "Controversial 9/11 Memorial."    21 July 2004.

Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.


kh on April 24, 2009:

I can't understand why there was not any news coverage of this

wonderful gift from the Russian people. I plan to visit it as soon as

I can.

Anne Starritt on April 21, 2009:

This is absolutely beautiful and I am totally confused about why it didn't receive vast amounts of publicity. I am greatful for the e-mail which finally brought it to my attention.

GeneriqueMedia from Earth on April 17, 2009:

Thanks for sharing this with us, I really so hope our relations with Russia keep improving. I'm down with most of what Russia says actually--not that I hate my country, but..you guys usually pipe up with good points. ;)



Quilligrapher (author) from New York on April 15, 2009:

How true, Capt.. I could not agree with you more. Thanks for sharing.


Fire Capt. on April 14, 2009:

I find it to be a beautiful and striking piece of art that truly speaks to that tragic event. To bad there is controversy, but most art evokes strong feelings of many origins. Thank you to the people of Russia for this extraordinary gift.

Quilligrapher (author) from New York on April 13, 2009:

Hi RK! Praise from you means much to me. Thank you.

Quilligrapher (author) from New York on April 13, 2009:

Yes, Shalini, the controversy tends to over shadow the message of shared grief from a people who have had plenty of their own. The stature of the artist, the sincerity of the gesture, are the true measures of this sculptures relevance.Thanks for sharing with us.


Shalini Kagal from India on April 12, 2009:

It's sad about the controversy - and Zurab Tsereteli has always courted controversy as well. But it's the spirit of the monument that should maybe be what is in focus - love the teardrop.

RKHenry from Neighborhood museum in Somewhere, USA on April 12, 2009:

I love it! I applaud your hub! Execellent writing.

I am a great fan of Russian artists {painters mostly}.

Related Articles