Welcome to my Blog - What Is A Blog?

A blog is a personal diary. A daily pulpit. A collaborative space. ... Your blog is whatever you want it to be.

For many years I have kept a journal, which I don't write in as much as I once did. I have an inner yearning to communicate with the world through writing and pictures Part of my motivation is to leave something behind to a world that has given me so much - a mom, dad, brother, grandparents, a loving wife, high spirited and gifted sons, close friends and loyal customers. Most of us have had some help along the way to get where we are. In my 12 step program, step 12 is about giving back to others. I hope there are posts here that will warm your heart, make you smile and make you think. That is what my blog is all about. I hope you enjoy it. Ken

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Holocaust Rememberance Day

This story honors those that survived the Holocaust and conveys the permanent impact and deep reverberations of living through torture, abuse, shame and humiliation and what goes on in one's head mostly for the rest of their lives.
I know the story - I am here because my late and honorable grandfather had the foresight and courage to leave his native land, Lithuania in 1920 to seek a safe and peaceful life in the United States. Besides him, his two sisters came as well. He tried bringing over the rest of his family but in the end, they were trapped and were unable to escape death at the hands of the Nazis and non-Jewish Lithuanian collaborators. I never knew "the story" until I met my wife's parents, who are or were survivors: her dad is now deceased but every chance he got, he spoke out about the injustice that was handed down by the Nazis - he was a tailor, worked maniacally hard, probably to keep mentally ahead of the daily torment he faced through the memories of losing his six siblings and parents. He spoke to school children, churches and was often interviewed by reporters in Omaha on special days like this, remembering what happened. He had written, in long handwriting his story of how he survived. His dream, before he died, was getting his book published and that it was - it is called "As God Is My Witness." I was involved in working with the publisher and needed to fill in the blanks that were left out of his longhand written books of lined pages that were barely legible. In the end, his story came out and has sold many copies. My mother-in-law is still alive and just lives each day so she can be with people and live in peace - if she isn't with people and is alone, the memories slip into her psyche and it's too much to bear.
As tough as my problems can be, I am grateful to have not known this kind of pain. Life is painful at times but our human survival gene is so strong that, almost no matter what, we just want to keep on breathing and moving forward for as long as we can - at least this is my point of view. Here's the story:

Story from BBC NEWS:
Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp survivors have been among those marking the 65th anniversary of its liberation at UK Holocaust Memorial Day events.Many attended a national commemoration at London's Guildhall, with other survivors of genocide and politicians. In a statement, the Archbishop of Canterbury urged people to hear their stories and remember their legacy. He also warned against "attitudes in ourselves and in others which were the harbingers of the Holocaust".

The Holocaust survivors greeted each other with bear hugs and knowing smiles; long-lost friends with a shared past. Among the survivors at the Guildhall was Lilly Ebert, 79, from Golders Green, north London, who was taken to Auschwitz with her family in 1944.

The ceremony began with the crystal clear voices of a school choir, silhouetted against a backdrop of grainy black and white images. Forever associated with the horrors of the Holocaust, emaciated faces stare soullessly from behind the barbed wire of concentration camps. It's hard to believe some of those skeletal figures shivering in Eastern Europe's icy winters are sitting here, surrounded by the families they went on to build. They too have been affected by the horrors their parents suffered.

At the back, one woman kept her hand on the door for a swift exit. She and her sister both suffer from claustrophobia. "Too many stories about gas chambers and cattle trucks from my parents," she explained. She remembers her time in the largest Nazi concentration camp "so vividly, it could have happened yesterday" and remains traumatised by the experience. "The most important thing is to be alive," she told the BBC. "It's important to be tolerant with each other. It makes no difference what religion you are or the colour of your skin."

The theme for the 10th annual Holocaust Memorial Day is Legacy of Hope, which focuses on the lessons future generations can learn from the Holocaust.

Holocaust Memorial Day Trust chief executive Carly Whyborn said the words of Holocaust survivors should set an example. "They don't talk about revenge or hatred, they don't talk about enacting revenge on anybody, they talk about hope, they talk about creating a cohesive society for all of us," Ms Whyborn said.In a statement to coincide with the memorial, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Rowan Williams, warned against "dehumanising attitudes".

"We need to be vigilant about every expression of ungenerous feeling towards people in need and all who may for a time be dependent on the wider community - the refugees and asylum seekers," he said. "We need to be alert to the signs of a casual attitude to the value of human lives, whether by acts of terrorism or more subtly, in relation to disability, or the beginning or end of life."

Arriving at the Guildhall event, Conservative leader David Cameron told BBC News it was a "fantastically important" anniversary. "It is important to remember what happened in the Holocaust and it is important to remember how many genocides there have been since then. "Just looking at the pictures of the survivors with their children gives me immense hope that we can do better in future."

Survivors' legacy: Lord Janner of Braunstone, the chairman of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said it was important to carry on the legacy of Holocaust survivors. "Holocaust Memorial Day is a chance for us to honour our incredible Holocaust survivors, many of whom work extremely hard telling others about what they endured during the Holocaust. "They are an inspiration but sadly are growing fewer each year," he said.

Holocaust Memorial Day is marked with the intention of remembering and honouring the victims and survivors of the Holocaust and those from subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and the ongoing atrocities in Darfur.

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