By Derek GeanApril 23, 2015
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (April 23, 2015) -- The Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and Fort Leonard Wood honored the lives of Holocaust victims during the Days of Remembrance Observance April 16 at Lincoln Hall Auditorium.
The 1st Engineer Brigade hosted the event, themed "Learning From the Holocaust: Choosing to Act," which provided Soldiers and civilians alike, the opportunity to reflect on the past in hopes of preventing such atrocities in the future.
Six memorial candles were lit in honor of the 6 million Jewish victims of the Holocaust.
Chaplain (Capt.) Menachem Stern, Fort Leonard Wood Jewish chaplain, led audience members in a memorial prayer. The event was personal to Stern as he had Family members who were lost during the Holocaust.
"The sheer scale of the Holocaust can sometimes overwhelm us," Stern said. "During the Holocaust, on average 3,000 Jews were murdered every day for five and a half years. If we were to observe a minute of silence for each of those victims, the silence would last for more than 11 years."
He said a million and a half children -- a generation, was murdered, but the survivors were able to overcome the event.
"They married, they had children, grandchildren and refused to let evil have the final word or final victory. So the survivors became our heroes," Stern said.
Stern said hate and injustice is an evil that many in the world face.
"May we have the courage to fight hatred in the name of our shared and undeniable humanity, may we never be afraid to fight for a world where no one has to live in fear. We know that while we do not have the ability to change the past, we can change the future," Stern said.
Ben Fainer, a Holocaust survivor who spent six years in concentration camps, served as the guest speaker for the event. In 1939, his family was separated and sent to different concentration camps. He was eventually liberated by the 26th Infantry Division on April 23, 1945 in Cham, Germany, and was reunited with aunts and uncles in Ireland. He later immigrated to the United States and now lives in St. Louis. He recently wrote a book about his experiences entitled "Silent for Sixty Years."
Fainer, who said this was his third visit to Fort Leonard Wood, introduced a video about his liberation from Nazis and the Soldier who helped liberate him, Norris Nims. Nims, who has since passed away, was interviewed by Fainer as a way of preserving history. Nims contacted Fainer later in life to tell him he was involved in his liberation.
Fainer said he was thankful for the U.S. military and for the role the Army played in his freed.
"It is great to be in the company of such wonderful Soldiers," Fainer said. "It's great to be with a bunch of wonderful guys (Like the ones) that changed my life," Fainer said referring to his liberation by the Army.
Fainer said his goal is to share his story so events like the Holocaust will never happen again. He donated several copies of his book to the Bruce C. Clarke Library.
Following Fainer's presentation, Col. Heather Warden, 1st Engineer Brigade commander, thanked Fainer for sharing his experience.
"This is why we all wear the uniform, to make sure that such events in the future don't happen," Warden said.