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Holocaust Days of Remembrance: A reminder and a warning

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Cory Henning
  • 8th Civil Engineer Squadron Readiness and Emergency Management
During this time of the year, people often ask me what it is like being a Jewish person on Holocaust Remembrance Week, and what it means to me.

To me, this week is a reminder that evil - true, unbiased, malicious evil - exists in this world. Even the most casual search for information on the Holocaust reveals an ugly history with descriptions of tortures and horrible, efficient systems of murder. Reading some of it, it could almost be forgiven that there are people who refuse to believe it happened.

It is not the first time in Jewish history that we have been targeted merely for our beliefs; but without doubt, it was one of the worst.

I will not rehash the details of history here, but I will say this - the ultimate bottom line of the Holocaust is that between 11 and 17 million people - men, women and children - were systematically tortured and murdered over the span of several years. That is more people than the number that live in the entire city of New York City; more than the number that live in the entire country of Greece; and approximately one fifth of all deaths in World War II. Most of these people were Jewish; others just had the misfortune to be deemed "undesirable" by the Nazis. All of them died in truly horrible, terrible ways.

But that's just history, right? No, the worst part of all this is that "ethnic cleansing" still happens today. Conflicts continue in Africa, the Middle East and even the U.S. - there are still people out there today who can justify harming their fellow man based on minor differences in skin color, beliefs or sexual orientation. Doubtless most is unreported, a fact which - based on the numbers I can find - terrifies me.

So, what does this Holocaust Remembrance Day mean to me? The Holocaust was not just a tragedy; it was a warning, and a reminder, that the world will fall into ruin if we let it. I believe Edmund Burke summed it up best:

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."