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Remembering the past, looking to the future

An eternal flame burns inside the Hall of Remembrance at the United States Holocaust Memorial located in Washington D.C. The memorial reminds visitors to never forget the Holocaust and how events like this can be prevented if you remember the past. (Department of Defense photo by Marvin Lynchard)

An eternal flame burns inside the Hall of Remembrance at the United States Holocaust Memorial located in Washington D.C. The memorial reminds visitors to never forget the Holocaust and how events like this can be prevented if you remember the past. (Department of Defense photo by Marvin Lynchard)

F.E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. --

“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.”

 

These were the words of Jewish author, Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel. Born Sept. 30, 1928, in Sighet, Transylvania, now part of Romania, Wiesel grew up with his father, mother and three sisters.

 

In 1944, the family and other Jews were forced by Nazis into German extermination and concentration camps in Poland. Wiesel and his father were separated from his mother and younger sister. They were forced to work under unimaginable and grueling conditions while being moved between camps.

 

After a year-long nightmare, Wiesel was freed and reunited with his two surviving sisters. Unfortunately, neither Wiesel’s mother, father nor younger sister survived.

 

Once the Holocaust was over, Wiesel went to Paris to complete his secondary studies and later became a journalist. He eventually wrote about his Holocaust experiences, publishing his first book, “La Nuit” or “Night,” a memoir of his experiences in the concentration camps, in 1956.

 

Wiesel has received various awards including the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom and the French Legion of Honor’s Grand Croix.

 

Holocaust remembrance is not only an opportunity to memorialize and remember those who were killed, but also allows us to focus and reflect on things that could have been done to save them.

 

History teaches us that the Holocaust might not have occurred if governments and leaders had spoken out during the Nazi’s rise to power. More people could have been saved if individual citizens had raised their voices to force their governments to act, even if only to offer safety and refuge.

 

In the aftermath of the Holocaust, indifference to genocide cannot be tolerated. Holocaust remembrance imposes a moral obligation to speak out.

 

The wing will host a joint-service multicultural event on June 22, to remember and honor the victims and survivors of the Holocaust. The event will also recognize all American ethnic groups who have contributed to the diversity and strength of our great country.

 

For more information about the combined observance event or to volunteer, contact the equal opportunity office at 773-6060 or email Master Sgt. Carlos Barter, Jim Hunt, Staff Sgt. Jeremy Eller-McNeely or Master Sgt. Willie Davis.