Teresa and I join all Americans in observing Yom HaShoah – Holocaust Remembrance Day.
On this day, we pause to reflect on the irredeemable loss of six million Jews and countless Poles, Roma, LGBT people, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and persons with disabilities brutally murdered by the Nazis because of who they were or what religion they practiced.
We remember that behind each of these victims is more than a number, but a name – a life cut short, a future unfulfilled, a family made incomplete.
We draw strength from the heroic survivors who summoned the courage to share what they endured so others might draw from their wisdom and experience and who answered evil in the most powerful way possible – by living full lives, raising children and grandchildren, and advancing the ideals of equality and justice.
Many in our country lost loved ones in the Holocaust. As I have learned in the past decade, some of my own relatives were among those who perished in Auschwitz, Terezin, Sobibor, and Dachau. But the lessons of the Holocaust, and the need for remembrance, are universal, and as relevant to everyone today as they were seven decades ago.
All of us should remember that many Jews fleeing violence and extremism were denied entry to our ports. All of us must stand firmly and resolutely against resurgent anti-Semitism, sectarian hatred, and bigotry in our time. All of us must act to confront discrimination on the basis of race or religion, insist on the rule of law in relations between nations and peoples, and do all we can to uphold the fundamental dignity of every human being.
In the words of Elie Wiesel, “One person of integrity can make a difference.” In that spirit, it is our responsibility – individually, collectively, globally – to denounce injustice and prevent genocide. It is our duty to combat intolerance and prejudice in any form.
It is our solemn obligation to not only preach compassion, but practice it – and to do all we can to ensure that “never again” is a promise not only made, but kept.