By CRYSTAL LEWIS BROWN, Leader StaffApril 24, 2009
On Sunday, Chaplain (Col.) Robert Eldridge recalled a visit he made to northwest Germany years ago. The landscape was a lush green, he said. It was beautiful, he said, all except for the area inside of Bergen-Belsen, a Nazi concentration camp.
The grass was brown, and the few trees he saw scattered about were "emaciated."
"It was like the whole earth was crying out for what had been done on it," he said. "The land was not just crying about what happened to it, it was crying for humanity."
Eldridge recounted his experience as part of this year's Days of Remembrance service on Fort Jackson. The service is held each year to remember and memorialize victims of the Holocaust.
Retired Army Chaplain (Col.) Phillip Silverstein, a rabbi, served as guest speaker.
As Americans, he said, it is our duty to remember victims of the Holocaust.
"What then is the message of my talk'" he asked the congregation. "To preserve the sanctity of our dead."
He added, "It is our duty to believe that it can happen again."
Stephanie Alexander, who serves as the post's Jewish lay leader, said the Days of Remembrance are important, not only for Jews, but for everyone.
"So it doesn't happen again, that's the most important part," she said.
She said remembering the Holocaust also teaches people to be tolerant of those different than themselves.
Pvt. Scott Struthers, who lit the first of seven memorial candles during last week's ceremony, agreed. His candle was lit in memory of the 1.5 million victims killed at Auschwitz extermination camp.
Fellow Soldiers lit candles for the 900,000 killed at Dachau, 900,000 killed at Treblinka, 600,000 at Belzec, 360,000 at Majdanek, 320,000 at Chelmno and 250,000 at Sobibor.
"It's something in my heritage that I should know about, so I want to learn as much as I can," said Struthers, who is in Basic Combat Training with Company F, 3rd Battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment. "I have kids at home who are going to want to know."