Today, on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, we mourn and remember the millions of Jews, Gypsies, gays, disabled and others who were massacred by the Nazis throughout Europe.
We say “never again” yet we know that it can happen again and that in many parts of this world it is happening again. Today we also express our gratitude and thanks to the many people in Germany, Austria, Poland, France and elsewhere who we designate as the righteous. These are the individuals who risked their lives and the lives of their families to save the lives of those destined for extermination.
Today the lives of four of those righteous will be honored at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C. President Barack Obama will join in the ceremony sponsored by The Israeli Embassy and Yad Vashem, The Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority of Israel. President Obama’sRighteous Among the Nations Award Ceremony address can be viewed here at 5:45 p.m.
The four individuals who will posthumously receiving the Righteous Among the Nations Award are:
Master Sergeant Roddie Edmonds: Master Sergeant Roddie Edmonds participated in the landing of the American forces in Europe and was taken prisoner by the Germans at the Battle of the Bulge. While in captivity, the Germans ordered the captured Jewish POWs at the camp to report. Master Sergeant Edwards, the highest-ranking American non-commissioned officer, ordered all of the U.S. soldiers to stand together, and he announced to the German officer, “We are all Jews.” The German officer gave up, and the Jewish soldiers’ lives were saved.
Lois Gunden: Lois Gunden was an American teaching in France who helped smuggle Jewish children out of an internment camp and into a children’s home she established. At 26, Gunden, came to work in France with the Mennonite Central Committee in southern France. She ended up establishing a children’s home in Canet Plage. The children’s home was a safe haven for children smuggled out of nearby internment camps. This ended up saving many Jewish children and even Spanish refugees.
Walery and Maryla Zbijewski: Walery and Maryla Zbijewski were a Polish couple who put their lives at risk to secretly house a Jewish child in Warsaw for several months. Janina Ferster and her daughter Elzbieta managed to flee the Warsaw ghetto but had to remain in hiding until Janina could rent an apartment under a fake name. The Zbijewski’s hid the Elzbieta for months despite the dangers of Nazi’s discovering that they were helping Jews.
As we honor the righteous from that horrific time let us keep in mind the hate and discrimination faced by many in our nation and in other nations. Presently we see the same tour of hate being hurled at our Moslem citizens and immigrants. We see them being assaulted, their homes being attacked and their mosques being desecrated. Is another Kristillnacht next in line? In 1939 it was against the Jews. This time against the Muslims?
I say NEVER AGAIN.