Monday, June 11, 2012

The Greatest Generation

Ten days, five countries, four concentration camps and 34 lives changed forever. This journey began with three objectives: 1) to remember the fallen, 2) to honor the Veterans and Survivors and 3) to educate the students. We were given the task to facilitate, to sponsor and to negotiate this great adventure of historical discovery and revelation. As we all expected, while all these roles are important, our greatest role became to participate as history unfolded around us.

Whether we were designated as a sponsor, a nurse, a photographer or any of the other myriad of titles, we found our main focus in being present with the Veterans, Survivors and students. Participating in the Veteran and Survivor personal experiences proved enriching for our lives.

Our "Remembering the Holocaust" trip afforded amazing opportunities. This trip allowed Survivors to return to the camps where they were imprisoned for the first time since being liberated. This trip allowed a Veteran to meet a prisoner of the concentration camp he liberated...face-to-face. For many of the Veterans and Survivors, these experiences gave them a final sense of closure and healing to the thoughts that have wounded them for so long. This trip created life-long friendships between Veterans, Survivors, faculty and students.

One Veteran, Mr. Mickey Dorsey, brought along several magazine articles and pictures about World War II and the Holocaust for students and staff to read. A fifty year Holocaust commemorative article from US News and World Report (April 3, 1995) cites an article from Christian Century entitled "Gazing Into the Pit" which said, "the Holocaust shows 'the horror of humanity itself when it surrendered to its capacity for evil. Buchenwald and other concentration camps spell doom. But it is not only the doom of the Nazi's; it is the doom of man unless he can be brought to worship at the feet of the living God.'" As we seek truth, as defined by a Biblical worldview, this becomes our greatest commission in the war of ideas to prevent the next Holocaust. As Jesus said, " 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the great and foremost commandment.  The second is like it, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets." (Matthew 22:37-40 NAS) As we embrace these two greatest commandments, we protect ourselves and the next generation as we pass on these most essential truths.  

We are very fortunate to work for an institution that values patriotism and character and is willing to go above and beyond to instill those same values in the students. Thank you to College of the Ozarks for this wonderful experience and never-ending pursuit of Christ-like character.

We are also very blessed to participate in this trip with our Veterans and Survivors. It is such an honor to accompany real heroes to the places that have built and shaped our country. The freedoms we have to teach, work, live and even write this blog were fought for by these brave men.

As remarkable as the entire trip has been, the students have shown bright through all they have experienced. It was amazing to see them envelop themselves in the lives of our Survivors and Veterans. It was an honor to accompany fine Americans through these difficult places. The strength of their every action revealed the love of Christ.

We all feel very blessed to have had this opportunity to travel and experience history. In addition, we also are very blessed to be able to work with this exceptional group of students on a daily basis. Not only have we traveled and developed friendships with the greatest generation, we have also had the blessing and honor of teaching and mentoring the next greatest generation.

Paul Baker
Bill Gebhart
Gary Herchenroeder
Lisa Herchenroeder
Fred Mullinax

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