Memory is encoded in children through stories and songs. As adults, we pull memories like books from a shelf and try to utilize the wisdom of our elders. Some of the most potent memories in civilization are shadows—unspeakable crimes against millions—and we must try hard to understand them for the sake of our descendants.The internationally recognized Holocaust Remembrance Day marks the uprising in the Warsaw ghetto in the spring of 1943. Darkness shrouds any government that excludes, isolates, processes, and condemns a culture. The Jewish resistance movement in Warsaw, a violent clash between clandestine fighters and German soldiers, was echoed in other ghettos in Europe during the war.
That resistance continues in historical preservation and education, in programs like the United States Holocaust Museum. People must recognize the catalysts behind racism, occupation, internment, forced relocation, and rampant genocide. Sadly, these crimes exist today in different countries. When nations are unable or unwilling to intervene, our humanity is forfeit.
I once volunteered at a concert event that promoted the musical works of Holocaust survivors. A handful of survivors were invited to watch the performance. In the reception area, I remember asking an old man for his name and searching for it on a clipboard. I checked his name and welcomed him into the hall. He smiled warmly and exclaimed: ”It’s nice to exist.”