By robert timmonsApril 12, 2018
Fort Jackson and religious leaders from Columbia, South Carolina honored the memories of Holocaust victims and survivors April 10 during a Days of Remembrance Observance at the NCO Club on post.
"While we cannot bring the dead back to life, we can make sure their memories survive and their deaths were not in vain," said Rabbi Hesh Epstein, with the Beth Shalom Synagogue in Columbia, S.C., during the observance's invocation.
Yom Hashoah, or Day of Remembrance, is held each year to remember and memorialize the victims, and survivors of the Holocaust that took the lives of six million Jews. This year it is held April 11-12.
The Days of Remembrance Observance teaches us a "legacy of perseverance," said Col. Fernando Guadalupe, commander of Fort Jackson's Leader Training Brigade.
Guadalupe welcomed attendees to event by quoting President Ronald Reagan's 1983 speech to Holocaust survivors. The world should "never close their eyes to evil; never ignore the suffering of innocents and must never be silent in times of moral crises," Guadalupe said.
Dr. Lilly Filler, daughter of Holocaust Survivors and secretary for the S.C. Council of the Holocaust, was the guest speaker. She shared a short documentary about American Soldiers taken prisoner during the Battle of the Bulge, who came together to resist German attempts to separate American Jews from other POWs. She also shared a video of interviews with Holocaust survivors including her parents, Jadzia and Ben Stern.
In her speech Filler highlighted the struggles of her father who was split from his family to never see many of them again. She also quoted General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower's letter to Army Chief of Staff General of the Army. George Marshall, to show rebut about those in society who deny the Holocaust existed.
In Eisenhower's letter to Marshall he wrote:
"The visual evidence and the verbal testimony of starvation, cruelty and bestiality were so overpowering as to leave me a bit sick. In one room, where they were piled up twenty or thirty naked men, killed by starvation, George Patton would not even enter. He said he would get sick if he did so. I made the visit deliberately, in order to be in position to give first-hand evidence of these things if ever, in the future, there develops a tendency to charge these allegations merely to 'propaganda.'"
Filler said she thought "those words are appropriate because in society today there is a will to deny the Holocaust existed or to diminish the magnitude of it."
During the observance six candles were also lit symbolizing:
- Silence of death, silence of life and silence after destruction
- This child, by now gone, for dreams that ended before they started
- The old and the young, for countless good-byes filled with emotion
- For a mother in pain clutching a child during selection day
- The Jewish culture that lived and flourished in Warsaw, Poland for long
- For six million Jews who vanished in smoke without a trace.