Really, I should write two posts about my trip to the Holocaust Memorial Museum-- about the Museum itself and the experience and about my reflections on society as a result of my visit-- but instead, I am keeping it all together.
Truth be told, I have been to Dachau in 1997, so I thought I might have been prepared for the visit to the Museum yesterday. Before I began, I knew the facts. I had seen photos of the atrocities. I know the horribleness of what happened. I had been to a place where these things happened. Certainly a museum thousands of miles away could not possibly be as moving?
While the focus of the museum in D.C. was different than that of the one in Dachau, both are incredibly powerful. There were several times where I had to stop and and regain my composure and times when I sat down and just processed what I had seen and heard.
At the end of the museum, there is a Hall of Remembrance where I sat as people came and went. I read the inscriptions in the walls. I stared at the flame. I was lost with my thoughts and emotions. There were many stories shared, and I left with many more questions I might never be able to answer.
In the Hall of Remembrance, above a flame that burns over a coffin of soil from the death and concentration camps, ghettos, and mass execution sites, Deuteronomy 4:9 is prominently displayed.
Photo from the USHMM website
In some ways I wonder, are we doing this? Are we remembering what happened? Have we learned from the terror of the Nazi's?
Sometimes I think it is hard to tell. I say this not to minimize the horrible memory the Holocaust, but rather to learn from the past and hope for the future. There are unfortunate parallels to the past every day throughout the world, including in the United States. Anti-semitism still exists. "Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion" is still circulated. Everywhere you turn people hate one another and their beliefs. Buildings are bombed. People are shot. Families are displaced.
Genocide. Persecution. Hate.
In actions and in words.
We are all human.
Is it not time we start treating one another accordingly?
'Love your neighbor as yourself.'