Why we must not forget
History is a constant reminder of all things man has accomplished, as well as all things man has destroyed. The brightness of history fades with time. As each new day comes and goes, new history is added, moving our past further into the darkness. It is important to celebrate our greatest accomplishments, but a necessity to continue to shine the brightest light possible, on our darkest history. It is emotionally daunting and at times heart breaking, which no human wants to endure. Not one of us would trade happiness for sadness, but if we don’t we run the risk of forgetting. For all those who have suffered and paid the ultimate sacrifice, we can not forget and must from time to time visit our past and bring it into the light of today. We’ve added a DID YOU KNOW to highlight some important history of the Holocaust. A few minutes of our time can help us ensure we do not allow it to happen again.
We find this all more compelling today, with the recent events which left 11 dead in shooting at Pittsburgh synagogue, suspect in custody. The suspected shooter’s motives are becoming clear to authorities, simply he hated Jews. Eleven innocent American’s lost their lives because of a misguided hatred of the “other”. Think of the heartbreak and damage caused to the family members of the 11. The pain and suffering spreads and consumed their family members. We must remember, they too had families, to many they were fathers, mothers, grandparents, sons, daughters, husbands, wives, cousins, and friends. In one flash of a second, hundreds of lives, lives of our friends and families, vanished, leaving behind only their memories.
Eighty-five or so years ago, the world would begin its journey into one of our darkest hours. Adolf Hitler rose to power. Soon German and Austrian Nazis attacked Jewish communities calling it Kristallnacht “Night of Broken Glass”. Killing 96 Jews and arresting 30,000. The unimaginable had begun, what was once thought as not possible, became the possible, and happened.
World War 2 was quickly approaching. The World sat quietly and watched. Closing their eyes to what was pretending it was not. The World would soon be forced to open its eyes and confront the evil its’ silence had allowed to grow. For all of us who feel our voices don’t count, our votes don’t count, I’m just one how can I make a difference; I give Adolf Hitler as your example. Just one man with one voice, began to sing and would soon change not just the course of a country but the entire world. One voice, your voice matters.
Over the next 12 or so years, the world would be plunged into chaos and carnage. Well over 100 million humans would be directly affected by the war. Somewhere between 50 to 70 million humans would perish from this earth. Over 1 million American soldiers would lose their lives along with 16 plus million Russians, 20 million Chinese, 9 million Germans, and 6 million Jews and many others. Eighty percent of all Russian males born in 1923 would die in the war. Over 40,000 men served on U-boats, 30,000 of which never returned home, were never seen of again. Mom’s and Dad’s across the world watched as their children went off to the war, waiting, praying, hoping to see them again, to speak to them one last time, only to be met with silence. Imagine those who returned from war, having to spend the rest of their lives haunted by the memories of the horrors they had experienced. All those men and women made the ultimate sacrifice to ensure every human would be treated with the dignity and respect they deserve. It would be a great sin to forget our family members who lost their lives in this great fight. How many families would never be the same, how many families would never see their loved ones again. If we forget, our family members will have died in vain.
The world settled this contest, rejecting hatred and racism, and laying a new foundation for all of us to build from. A foundation not based on hate, but on acceptance. A foundation built by those who so willing and bravely gave their blood, their last breath, to ensure its existence.
Today we see racism on the rise, nationalism on the rise, hatred on the rise, as if we forgot this war was already fought and the outcome decided. We will not allow the clock of progress to be turned back, we will not allow our family members who perished in this battle to be forgotten, and no we will not be silent.
To those who feel superior, or threatened by the other, I would like to offer a little advice. Hate has no boundaries. It does not distinguish between you, me or the other. To hate we are all the same. In the near future, you or I will become the other. Soon someone will come for us and wish to rid the world of our kind. It is a never ending vicious cycle with no winners just losers. Do not be fooled into believing you are safe because your group is different, it is right and will protect you. It will not.
Over the past few years we’ve seen a rise in hate crimes in the US. We’ve seen rallies with supporters chanting “Lock her or him up”, we’ve seen our elected officials targeted and shot while playing softball, we’ve seen pipe bombs mailed to people whom we disagree with politically, and the death of 11 individuals all because they believed something different than I supposedly do. One after another, we’ve shrugged it off as not important. We’ve made excuses, we’ve blamed the other side, we’ve created conspiracy theories that it is all a big hoax created by someone else for some gain, and out and out denied what we can plainly see right in front of our eyes. Soon the power matrix will shift and those who pretend it didn’t happen will be on the receiving end of it. If we are not careful, soon you will be the other and someone will come for you.
I would like to end with a poem written by a German Lutheran pastor, Martin Niemoller who wrote:
“First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out-
Because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out-
Because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out-
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me
-and there was no one left to speak for me.”
Let your voices be heard not just for you but for all, we proclaim no one is the other.