‘For the Dead and the Living, We Must Bear Witness’

By David W. ’19

Last Friday, September 15, the juniors embarked on a field trip to Washington, D.C. After a visit to the Smithsonian Museum of American History and a short lunch on the National Mall, we arrived at one of the most important memorials in the country.

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The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is dedicated to the millions of Jews, Soviet civilians and prisoners of war, Serb civilians, people with disabilities, Gypsies, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Nazi political opponents, and LGBTQ peoples who were systematically murdered from 1933-1945 in Nazi Germany and elsewhere. It is a museum created so that we never forget the six million Jews killed by a regime which sought to eradicate the Jewish people entirely.

It is also a sobering reminder that genocide is not a thing of the past; it continues right now, in countries like Syria, Sudan, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, the Central African Republic and Myanmar.

After walking through the cold, dark hallways of the museum, you find yourself in the Hall of Remembrance. Sunlight streams through long, skinny slits of glass. It is inexplicably warm and bright; the walls seems to glow with a yellow hue. Far removed from recordings of Nazi propaganda, the room is quiet and solitary. The sound of your own breathing echoes up to the high ceiling and cascades back down a million times over, creating what sounds like myriad tiny whispers. A pleasant smell wafts through the air, emanating from candles which adorn the walls. On the far side of the room, resting on a block of granite, burns a small flame. Above it, an inscription reads:

“Only guard yourself and guard your soul carefully, lest you forget the things your eyes saw, and lest these things depart your heart all the days of your life. And you shall make them known to your children, and to your children’s children.”