At first glance, the structure looks like the remains of a building ravaged by war or a natural disaster. It is intended to appear that way. Made from concrete, mortars, real war tanks, and other ammunitions materials, the Hope for Peace Monument in Yarze, Lebanon stands as a commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Lebanese army. Yarze is a small village just a short trip away, about twenty minutes, from the Capital of Beirut.
The structure resembles a building, but it is actually a massive sculpture created by the French-American artist Armand Fernandez. The former Marine and Vietnam veteran announced, “This sculpture expresses a hope for peace” at the unveiling in 1995. French-born Armand Fernandez held the dream to erect this sculpture for many years before it finally found a home in Lebanon. It was originally offered to the city of Strasbourg as a D-Day monument around 1970. He also offered the structure to the United States, France, and Israel, but was denied by all due to the expense of the project.
In addition to commemorating the 50-year anniversary of the Lebanese army, the structure is also a symbol of the end of civil war, which ravaged the country for several decades. This multifaceted war manifested from a combination of events that took place in the mid-20th century, which included the cold war, and the establishment of the state of Israel. Between the years of 1975 and 1990, the civil war in Lebanon resulted in approximately 120,000 fatalities and many thousands of people still remain displaced today.
The vehicles used in the sculpture were the real military jeeps and tanks that were used during the Lebanese civil war. The military tanks and other vehicles were sealed into the concrete structure to symbolize the country’s commitment to peace.
Embedded with up to 78 vehicles, the monument weighs roughly five thousand tons and is thirty meters high. It does not stand isolated on its own. It is located at the entrance of the Ministry of National Defense, which also houses the Lebanese Military Museum. This museum is home to many antique defense weapons such as swords, axes, and old pistols. The museum is also home to ancient paintings that date back to the Ottoman Empire.
The Hope for Peace Monument is a statement piece in the art world as well as in the political world. By using completely unconventional and unique materials, Armand Fernandez was able to produce a work of art that captured international attention. This, perhaps shocking, stack of tanks and concrete was not created for aesthetic purposes, like most other structures. It was created to introduce an original idea to the world of art as well as to remind the onlooker of the destruction that war can bring to a society. It made once-valuable artillery weapons unusable, sealing in a peace promise while remaining a looming reminder of the harshness of war. It is a valuable commemoration of peace to a once war torn country as well as to the rest of the world.