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Audubon's Avenger Becomes Berger Field
After years of jumping through hoops, NORD has finally installed a sign marking the David Berger- Avenger Field in Audubon Park. More than just a “place to play ball,” the field commemorates Berger, one of the 11 victims of the 1972 Munich Olympic bombings.
“Our young people are going to understand that this Berger Field, not Avenger Field, is an honor of a hero,” said City Councilmember-at-Large Jackie Clarkson. “It states the name, and children will ask and they could be told about a hero. There has to be a message.” Clarkson reminiscences on the somewhat overlooked trend of naming parks after heroes like Mickey Markey Park in the Bywater.
“The new NORD is doing it right. How hard could one sign? It took a village,” said Clarkson laughing.
Although a Cleveland resident, Berger attended Tulane University where he excelled in both academics and weightlifting. Despite his short stature, Berger could lift more than twice his own weight, a feat that would eventually land him a place on the Israeli Olympic weightlifting team.
“When they use their field they’re not just going to a field,” said Rabbi Ed Cohn of Temple Sinai. The field symbolizes Berger’s struggle to not only achieve his goal in weightlifting, but also his strength in the face of terrorism. The field “memorializes something that is eternal: what David stood for.”
Berger’s brother, Fred Berger, gave a teary-eyed account of the athlete’s life— from his first pull-up to his last performance on the world’s stage. His friend from Tulane also retold stories of the typical college student with extraordinary talent, passion and tenacity. Although cut short at 28, Berger takes comfort in the idea that he accomplished his ultimate Olympic goal.
“We dedicate an honored place here in the Crescent City to the memory of David Berger, a son of Tulane and a pride to all who ever knew him and with the ten other Israeli athletes who were robbed of a fullness of life,” said Rabbi Cohn.
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