Friday, June 8, 2012

I Wish I Could Cry

One of our guides told us students that we are witnesses to the witness. We felt the great weight of this responsibility in a very real way today as we walked through what Dr. Brent aptly called "the most terrible place on earth." As we drove into the massive complex that is Auschwitz, we were shocked by its size. The air was thick with the tension each of us held about the day: Survivors who had never been back, Veterans who liberated, and students who were ready to learn and share. None of us knew what to expect from this day.

As a group, we laid a wreath to honor those lost to the horrors of the Holocaust. Again, we lined up to hug our Survivors and Veterans, and the weight of their experiences was transferred onto each of us.

Today we saw what hatred could do, but we also saw what love can do. Dr. Brent shared with us the Jewish tradition of laying a stone on the burial site of a loved one as a way to honor their passing. He leaned down to the railroad track at Birkenau and chose a stone to place at his father's grave. He straightened up and muttered, "I wish I could cry."

In a way, this moment made us see our trip in a different light; just as in the Jewish tradition of placing a stone on the grave of a loved one, our Survivors are placing a stone on the grave of the Holocaust. They are laying down the heavy burden they have carried for over half a century. As they lay them down, we now carry the great privilege and responsibility of ensuring that these stories are never forgotten and that these atrocities will never be repeated. We refuse to let the stories of Dr. Brent, Gershon Ron, and George Spooner leave our memories.

This day was difficult; it brought tears, both of sorrow for the past and hope for the future. But today was an essential moment in each of our lives, one that we were chosen to receive. Seeing the gratitude and relief in the eyes of our Survivors and Veterans made every difficult moment worth the tears. It brings a great joy and peace to our hearts to see them at rest, knowing their memories are safely preserved.

"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." - Matthew 11:28 (ESV)

Michael Dickinson, junior
Sabrina Elliot, junior
Emma Martin, senior

1 comment:

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