By Maj. Richard A. Stebbins, 94th Army Air and Missile Command, Public AffairsMay 1, 2009
FORT SHAFTER FLATS, Hawaii - The painful lessons of the Holocaust were recounted by a local writer and historian, here, April 21, during the Days of Remembrance observance sponsored by the 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command (AAMDC).
Pierre Moulin, a volunteer at the U.S. Army Museum of Hawaii in Honolulu, talked to about 100 people about the rise of Adolf Hitler and about how one of the most profound events in the history of mankind occurred.
He explained that the genocide "was a well-planned, systematic destruction of a race."
This year's theme was "Never Again: What You Do Matters," which focused on individual efforts to stop prejudice, racism and the stereotyping of people. The context emphasized that no society can remain silent, apathetic and indifferent in the face of the oppression of others, according to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) Web site.
The historical record of the Holocaust shows that nearly six million Jews lost their lives during the eight-year struggle from 1933-45. While the primary target was the Jews, other groups of differing racial, political or ideological backgrounds were also persecuted.
Approximately seven million people of various nationalities and the disabled were killed, according to the USHMM Web site.
Moulin detailed how Hitler rose to power and set about the destruction of the Jews, from the setting up of concentration camps and ghettos to the extermination of millions of people.
He also stated that, because of the effect of World War II across Europe and the economic crisis in the U.S., most people did not really understand or comprehend what was happening to those being persecuted.
A powerful vignette highlighting genocides that have occurred during the past 100 years and captivated the crowd. The vignette was designed by Staff Sgt. Eli Handler, the 94th AAMDC health care noncommissioned officer, who served as master of ceremonies for the event.
A potent image, people dressed in all black set against a red backdrop read the startling numbers of victims for each of the different genocide cases. The final sketch showed Handler's 11-year-old son dressed in white set against an image of a sunrise.
His son spoke the final message ending with this year's theme.
"The image of the boy in white with a sunrise in the background represents hope," said Handler, "hope for humanity and hope that we can stop the next genocide."
Also attending this year's ceremony were two locals from Maui who had survived the Holocaust in Eastern Europe. Alex Landsman was in a concentration camp in Budapest, Hungary, and his wife, Margo, was in Bucharest, Romania.
"Pierre's presentation brought back a lot of memories (of how it was for us). It really stirred up emotions for us," said Margo Landsman.
Brig. Gen Roger Mathews, commanding general of the 94th AAMDC, summed up the ceremony during closing remarks.
"This business of remembering is to ensure that this never happens again. That is our challenge - to go from here and to remember," said Mathews.