Just over a year after Pinecrest native and freelance journalist Steven Sotloff was brutally executed by ISIS, a new garden is opening in his honor.
Tomorrow evening, in a ceremony open to the public, the Steven Sotloff Memorial Garden will be commemorated inside the larger Pinecrest Gardens on Red Road. "The garden is centered on three water features, a long-time tenet of garden design, often referring to heaven, Earth and man," Michelle Hammontree, a spokeswoman for the Village of Pinecrest, wrote in a release.
Surrounding the water features are numerous plants, including Peace Lilies, soft ferns, luxuriant Begonias and palms; much of the design for the garden and memorial was chosen by Sotloff's family, Hammontree said. "Steven's parents ... have expressed that the memorial is very important because it will be a public memorial where they can go and pay their respects to their son," she says.
After growing up in South Florida as a deeply inquisitive and sometimes mischievous kid, Sotloff attended boarding school on the East Coast and then the University of Central Florida, where he excelled as a writer on the college paper.
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He later moved to Israel, his ancestral homeland, eventually receiving dual citizenship; in several years as an adventurous freelance journalist, he travelled throughout the Middle East and wrote for numerous outlets, including a series of pieces for Time about the American embassy attack in Benghazi, Libya.
Sotloff was captured by ISIS militants at a makeshift roadblock just inside the Syrian border in early August, 2013, and held in captivity until his grisly murder more than a year later. After his death was shown to the world, Sotloff's numerous friends and family were left mourning the passionate, funny young man who had committed his life to telling the stories of ordinary people in difficult circumstances.
"Steve wasn't a very flashy guy," Sotloff's close friend Barak Barfi told New Times last year. "He just liked to do his work."
The memorial commemoration is at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, at 11000 Red Road, in Pinecrest.