Letter to the Editor: Confronting the Holocaust: American Responses
For more than a century, the members of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution have dedicated themselves to historical preservation, promotion of education and encouragement of patriotic endeavor. These goals are as relevant in today's society as they were when the organization was founded in 1890.
This week marks the Annual Holocaust Days of Remembrance. As stated on the national museum website, "Congress established the Days of Remembrance as the nation's annual commemoration of the Holocaust and created the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum as a permanent living memorial to the victims. Holocaust remembrance week is April 27--May 4, 2014. The theme designated by the Museum for the 2014 observance is Confronting the Holocaust: American Responses." (Retrieved from www.ushmm.org)
World War II brought about the term "genocide." In a 1941 radio address, Churchill stated that he had witnessed a crime which had no name. It was a horrific and systematic targeting of a specific group with violent crimes and with intentional result of total extermination. We have since seen genocide in Cambodia during the 70s, Bosnia between 1992 and 1995, Rwanda between April and July 1994, Darfur, Congo, etc. We continue to see ethnic cleansing with violence in Syria and the Ukraine. These brutal conflicts almost always have involved humanitarian aid and/or direct combat support from the United States Military.
The efforts of our military were neither of aggression, persecution, nor of conquest over another nation. They were those of American values and strength. Our soldiers were rescuers, symbols of hope and expression of bravery beyond the horrors they faced. A monument commissioned by the state of New Jersey and dedicated in May 1985 stands in visual position with Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. It is a statue of an American solider carrying a victim out of a concentration camp; thus, the monument's name, Liberation. Images of this statue can be found on the Internet.
Military bases and ships are actively educating our soldiers about the dangers and looming threats of genocide. They are studying the history of rescue operations prior to the outbreak of WWII, other preventative interventions and concentration camp liberations. Schools are educating our children about the atrocities of the Holocaust. "The Diary of Anne Frank" is often read during this time. The movie "Schindler's List" remains a dramatic reminder since its release in 1993. We must be diligent in our hearts and minds to prevent such actions from occurring again. We must preserve and study history, lest we repeat it.
Our veterans and soldiers are protectors and defenders of freedom. If we forget their many, many sacrifices, we are ignorant of why they do what they do. It is our responsibility to remember. It is our obligation to remain true to history and to American values. It is imperative that citizenship be appreciated and understood. It is our duty to protect the United States Constitution, honor our American flag and to graciously thank those who fought, presently serve and will be called upon in the future. We humbly thank the veterans and soldiers of this great nation. We have not forgotten.
--Submitted by Deanna Sporleder, Chaplain, Marshall Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution