CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, New Mexico --
The National Days of Remembrance is an annual commemoration established by Congress. The observance will take place April 23-30, 2017. The 2017 theme is “Learning from the Holocaust: The Strength of the Human Spirit.”
From 1933 to 1945, Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party led the systematic persecution and annihilation of Europe's Jewish population. This genocide, known as the Holocaust, is a horrifying example of what happens when a community and culture are robbed of their human rights.
According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum "Jews were the primary victims -- six million were murdered; Roma (Gypsies), people with disabilities, and the Polish were also targeted for destruction or decimation for racial, ethnic, or national reasons. Millions more, including homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses, Soviet prisoners of war, and political dissidents, also suffered grievous oppression and death under Nazi Germany."
During the Holocaust, bystanders, including both soldiers and civilians, witnessed atrocities and did nothing; too scared to speak up, they stood by while innocent people were killed.
Martin Niemöller (1892-1984) was a prominent Protestant pastor who emerged as an outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler and spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps. He is remembered for the following quotation:
“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”
The terrible events of the Holocaust should be remembered both for their historical significance, but also as a cautionary tale about respecting fellow human beings. The disrespect and disregard for humanity during the Holocaust is disturbing, but it's important that we remember the Holocaust to honor the victims and prevent future genocide. More than seven decades have passed since then, yet to this day, people treat those who are not like them differently. If you look across the world to places like Bosnia, Iraq or Rwanda, there are still millions of people being persecuted for their differences.
Genuine respect involves viewing another person as an individual of fundamental worth. This means members should not be judged on the basis of his or her possession of an attribute that places him or her in a particular racial, ethnic, economic or gender-based category.
The next time you hear or witness something that looks questionable. Heighten your awareness, show an act of courage, and take the time to question the behavior. Remember your contributions help to protect the inalienable right of everyone to be treated with dignity and respect.
For more information about the Holocaust and Days of Remembrance, please contact
27th SOW/EO at 575-784-2407, or visit the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum website at, https://www.ushmm.org.