Posted on 02/06/2015 @ 02:40 PM
It has been my privilege for the last six years to serve as lead sponsor of a field trip to the Miami Beach Holocaust Memorial for almost every ninth grader in our diverse high school - we are close to 2300 students a year, or about 600 ninth graders. The staff at the Memorial and the volunteer docents have been exceptionally welcoming to between 40 and 60 of our students at a time, and have provided us with edifying and emotionally-charged tours of the memorial walls and sculptures. Hearing the testimony of Holocaust survivors, however, who year after year share their harrowing stories of survival during the atrocious years 1933 to 1945 and beyond, has left a lasting impact on each of the several thousand young men and women from our high school who have now come of age with the certainty of devastating effects prejudice. It is to the Holocaust survivors that we've heard from at the Memorial that we owe our deepest gratitude for having had the courage and resolve to re-tell their stories again and again in the hopes that we today and our kids tomorrow may never see what it is that they have seen. It is to the millions of innocent victims of the Holocaust, genocides that have occurred before and since the Holocaust, and anyone who has felt the pain of being marginalized as a member of an out-group, that we owe our deepest respect, and from whom we can derive the courage to speak and act out when we perceive human rights abuses in our backyard and in the broader global community.