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Fourth Annual Memorial of the Victims of Christmas 2016 TU 154 Plane Crash

Fourth Annual Memorial of the Victims of Christmas 2016 TU 154 Plane Crash

Members of the Schiller Institute NYC Chorus and the Bayonne, NJ Fire Department held the fourth memorial on Monday, December 28, for the 64 members of Russia’s Red Army Chorus, and the others, including journalists and beloved relief doctor Elisabeta Glinka, who perished when their plane crashed into the Black Sea, shortly after take off on December 25th, 2016.

The event this year was small, due to COVID restrictions, limiting participation to 24 people, which included Dmitry Chumakov, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the UN, Captain Donald Haiber of the Bayonne Fire Department and his honor guard, John Sigerson, Vice President of the Schiller Institute, members of the chorus, and two Russian press.

Captain Haiber officiated.  After the American and Russian anthems were sung, Mr. Chumakov spoke about how deeply grateful he and his colleagues are to see the empathetic response for the American people for the tragedy which occurred 4 years ago.  He said that the fact that we have persevered for four years indicates the strength of the friendship and that those people will never be forgotten.

This resonated with Capt. Haiber, who also spoke about 9/11, and how much the gift from Russia of the Memorial meant to the American people in that dark hour.

John Sigerson spoke on the theme of the “best of all possible worlds” where, as in the Brahms Naenie, meanness and ugliness will go down to oblivion.

Helga’s very beautiful and strong message was read by Diane Sare. 

Greetings to the Memorial for The Alexandrov Ensemble of Song and Dance

by Helga Zepp-LaRouche, President of the International Schiller Institute

The world must never forget the 92 plane passengers, including the 64 heroic members of the Alexandrov Ensemble whose tragic death occurred in a plane crash four years ago as they were on their way to Syria to support the Russian Army who itself was on a mission to undo the consequences of an interventionist war. Because it is the message of beauty and solidarity the Alexandrov Ensemble stands for, which gives the hope, that the present awful relationship which exists presently among too many nations in the world can be replaced by a better one.

The four years which have passed since the tragedy occurred, have seen an avalanche of accusations against Russia, including several years of “Russiagate“ designed only to prevent a decent relation between the US and Russia, which all were based on lies, intrigues and manipulations. While not a shred of evidence could be produced, and many of these allegations have disappeared without any ado, that is not preventing the same circles to try to defame Russia again and again. What is the aim of all of this?

It is high time that we use the words of the Ninth Symphony of Beethoven: “Oh Freunde, nicht diese Töne, lasst uns angenehmere anstimmen, und freudenvollere!“O friends, no more these sounds!! Let us sing more cheerful songs, more full of joy!

Let us work in the still ongoing Beethoven Year, which has now been extended due to the Covid-19 pandemic, to elevate the relationship between the US and Russia to the spirit of the memory of the Alexandrov Memorial and that symphony, and proceed with the intention of Schiller and Beethoven expressed in the “Ode to Joy“: “Alle Menschen werden Brüder“, “All Men become Brethren“ and find a way to address the common aims of mankind.

`The Best of All Possible Worlds’

Address by John Sigerson, Schiller Institute Vice-President, on the occasion of the fourth annual memorial service for the Alexandrov Ensemble, December 28, 2020, at the Teardrop Memorial, Bayonne, New Jersey, USA.

As we gather here today, four short, tumultuous years after the tragic loss of the the gifted musicians of the Alexandrov Ensemble, along with journalists, military people, a beloved relief doctor, and crew, 92 in all, on their way on a mission of mercy and assistance to the people of Syria, I’m reminded of how thankful we should be that indeed, we live in the best of all possible worlds!

But how can anyone possibly assert that we’re in the best of all possible worlds, in the face of the man-made disasters that have befallen us, especially since the horrors of Sept. 11, 2001 which this teardrop memorializes, and since the terrible ensuing geopolitical wars, based on lies and deceit, which not only engulfed those wonderful musicians, but has thrown entire nations into chaos and misery? How can we assert this now, at the end of this annus horribilis, this awful year, bringing with it a deadly pandemic, along with starvation now threatening to snuff out the lives of 270 million of our fellow men, women, and children?

Yes, we can assert this, if we consider the following: Imagine a world where the deaths of 92 human beings, or even of 270 millions, is a good thing, something to be desired. And imagine a world where memorials such as this one, remembering and honoring those who perished, are of no consequence. Imagine a world in which friendship among nations is a fool’s errand, and where mutual suspicion and hostility is the most desirable condition among men, and among nations.

Now, such a world may exist in the crippled imaginations of some misguided individuals and institutions on our planet; it is, however, scientifically, demonstrably the case, that it is not the real world. Their world is an imaginary, dead world, a bestial world; whereas the real Universe is characterized by life, by development, and by what the American Founding Fathers termed “the pursuit of happiness.” Ours is a Universe which joyfully responds whenever we have discovered a new wonderful principle of its operations. It is also a just world, where we can be confident that meanness and ugliness will, in the grand course of history, inevitably go down to oblivion, as the German poet Friedrich Schiller wrote in his poem Nänie, set to music so beautifully by Johannes Brahms, which the Schiller Institute NYC Chorus performed at Carnegie Hall just one year ago.

Let us therefore rejoice, with all solemnity, that our tribute here to the 92 souls, and to all kindred souls who are now walking among the stars, will help to strengthen bonds of friendship, trust, and mutual assistance, not only between our two nations, Russia and the United States, but among all men and all nations of goodwill. For as Schiller also said in that same poem, even a song of lament on the lips of the beloved, is truly great and magnificent.

Remarks by Mr. Dmitry Chumakov, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations, at the Memorial Wreath Laying Ceremony in honour of the Alexandrov Ensemble and other victims who perished at Christmas, 2016

Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear friends, 

Today is the fourth time we get together to honor the memory of the victims of a plane crash that took place in the skies over Sochi on 25 December 2016. Back then we lost almost all members of Alexandrov Ensemble; Ms. Elizaveta Glinka – a renowned philanthropist and humanitarian worker; as well as journalists from Russia’s leading Media outlets. 

I would like to express our deep appreciation to the Schiller Institute and the Fire Department of Bayonne. Annual meetings like this one have become our good tradition, which makes them all the more significant. We commend the efforts of American community to preserve the memory of those outstanding Russian musicians and luminaries in the United States. This year even the coronavirus pandemic could not stop us from gathering here. 

Solidarity and mutual help are especially needed today, when the humanity has faced an unprecedented threat – COVID-19 pandemic. For the sake of our common future, peoples and states of the world need to erase all dividing lines, and channel their creative forces to articulating a joint response to this global challenge. 

Russia and the United States, as two Permanent Members of the Security Council, bear special responsibility for sustaining global peace and security. In this context, it is of principal importance that the people of our two countries maintain most cordial relations and promote inter-state ties at the civil society level. 

This is why it widely resonates in our hearts that American people empathize with our loss and grieve along with us. 

May the memory of the deceased heroes live forever. The hope and the light that they conveyed to the world will perpetuate in the souls of those who admired their talent and dedication both in Russia and in the United States. 

Thank you.

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