A remembrance service for the victims of the Birmingham air-raids was still in progress in St Martin's when people began to gather around the veiled Tree of Life memorial.
|People gathered to remember|
Once the service ended a procession of Birmingham dignitaries made their way from the church to the sculpture, for the unveiling ceremony.
Professor Carl Chinn MBE, the president of the Birmingham Air Raids Remembrance Association (BARRA), was the first to address the crowd. He said:
"Today, after many years campaigning the members of the Birmingham Air Raids Remembrance Association... has now achieved its objective of a fitting and lasting memorial to the 2,241 citizens of Birmingham who died in the blitz on this city, from August the 8th 1940, when the old market hall was bombed, until 1943.
|Carl Chinn addresses the crowd|
"Seventy seven air raids, thousands of casualties and Hitler thought he could defeat us, he did not and nor could he have ever have defeated the people of Britain and the people of Birmingham, who were avowed in their intent to stand tall and proud and fight tyranny.
"Those of us who did not live through the war, but who grew up with a knowledge, that with out you who worked and lived and fought that we would not be here. We salute you, we thank you. We pay tribute to your bravery, your resilience and your dignity."
|At the ceremony|
Paul Green, of the Halcyon Gallery, the company who donated the memorial, gave a brief speech. Then Lorenzo Quinn, the sculptor who created the memorial, stepped up to the microphone.
"As an artist I feel humbled by the opportunity given to me to represent this sombre act of remembrance. As a person and a father I stand here in bewilderment and disbelief over past atrocities..." he said.
"The sculpture is called The Tree of Life because it was thanks to these people, that many people here today owe their own lives. It is also a symbol, the outstretched hands representing a search for a better future.
|Lorenzo Quinn at the ceremony|
"The rock the tree stands on represents our conscience, and this should always weigh us to the ground and we should never forget the past, but learn from it and grow upon it as a beautiful tree, to give shade to future generations."
Marjorie Ashby, a leading campaigner for the memorial for the past thirty years, paid tribute to the killed and injured, then Brian Wright, Chairman of Birmingham Air Raids Association, read out the memorial's inscription; reminding us of the 9,000 casualties and 2,241 deaths.
|The Tree of Life|
Lord Mayor Councillor John Hood, with Mrs Ashby and Mr Wright, pulled the blue sheet from the sculpture, to applause from the crowd. The Tree of Life was blessed by Rev Tom Pyke, Chaplain to BARRA and wreaths were presented.
After the half-hour long ceremony came to a close, people surged forward and thronged around the sculpture. They laid their own floral tributes and searched the memorial's roll of honour for a mention of their lost sisters, brothers, parents and grandparents.