Sunday, July 25, 2010
It is 9:30 pm and we just completed our last dinner together as a group. We shared our most memorable experiences and our directors actually admitted that we have been their favorite group in over 20 years.
I had started my last entry when we got kicked off of the internet and now I am not sure what I had previously written. Last night is a blur with the exception of meeting up with Ross, Diana and Tom at a local pub to see them. Three of my friends convinced me to forgo the rest and catch a cab. Im glad I did. Ross told me that I was a hit with his frat brothers when I had a picture of myself drinking my first beer while wearing a Delt T Shirt!.
Today it was extremely hot once again as we walked over to USHMM for an all day workshop. Steve gave us an overwhelming amount of on line web sites that will be extremely useful. After lunch, which was a hot dog at a street corner vendor, we were once again honored and humbled with the testimony of a Holocaust survivor : Henry Greenbaum. Henry was only 11 when the war broke out and his journey into hell began at 15 until he was 19 years of age. He survived a labor camp, concentration camp (Birkeneau), Buna, a death march and a bullet to the back of his head- that along with starvation, lice, and the loss of most of his family. He spoke eloquently, with little trace of a Polish accent. He also spoke with passion and heart as he gave us the responsibility of carrying on his story. Although we were all so tired, we wre riveted to our seats hanging on each word.
It was fitting that this journey ended where it had begun. However, when I walked through the museum this morning, I truly looked at it with different eyes. I looked at the photos, and videos realizing I had been there, I walked down those cobblestone streets of Warsaw, I saw the remnants of the ghetto wall that appears in a particular photo. I sat inside a cattle car and touched the walls. There is a convention of boy scouts in DC and many were in the museum along with us- before the public. I walked around listening to these boys ask questions as they walked around, and I was able to fill in some blanks as well as ask them how they felt about what they saw. I realized I had learned so much these past few weeks and was able to point out important artifacts to these young men. I found myself pointing to the photos in the shetetl and reminding them to look at the faces, see the families, the celebrations and remember these people were alive, flourished, wanted the same things that we all want- yet they were unable to do so . I recalled a quote I heard about how if one believes absurdities they can commit atrocities. Believing that the Roma, Jehovah Witnesses, Homosexuals, and most of all Jews, were less than human is truly absurd.
Three weeks, 27 people, a mission, a journey, a profound responsibility, I can only try.