Days of Remembrance Observance

CAMP HUMPHREYS, Republic of Korea - Yom HaShoah, also known as Holocaust Remembrance Day is observed as a day of commemoration for the approximately six million European Jewish men, women, and children who perished during the Holocaust.

2nd Infantry Division/ROK-U.S. Combined Division and U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys hosted an intimate Days of Remembrance Observance at Freedom Chapel May 2.

U.S. Army Lt. Col. John Traeger, 2ID Equal Opportunity officer, presented the 8th Army Commanding General's proclamation to start off the observance.

The overall message of the proclamation went hand-in-hand with this year's theme "Beyond religious boundaries."

U.S. Army Sgt. 1st class Jefferson Cookman, 2ID Equal Opportunity office NCO, set the tone of the ceremony with a poem by an unknown author called "We light our candles," paying homage to families who lost their lives and soldiers who helped to liberate camps at the end of World War II. Sgt. 1st class Mark Oida, 2ID Equal Opportunity office NCO, silently lit six candles one by one in remembrance as the poem was recited.

"We light our candles for those who risked their lives to save other human beings," said Cookman. "We light our candles for those brave soldiers who liberated camps."

As the 2nd Infantry Division/ROK-U.S. Combined Division Museum director and command historian, Col. (Ret.) William Michael Alexander is no stranger to the presentation of what many think of as one of the most horrific mass genocides the world has seen.

Alexander also spoke on 2ID's role in the recovery of personal family items confiscated by the state and the liberation of camps.

"One of the most egregious things to me during the liberation," said Alexander, during his presentation. "Was when they found the remains of the bodies there would be boxes of gold fillings from their teeth that the Nazi's saved to melt down to gold."

His lecture shed light on the living conditions in concentration camps, along with mistreatment and starvation endured by families trapped on the inside before they were led to their death.

Attendees followed along with Alexander as he detailed a piece of history, accompanying his talk with presentation slides containing black and white pictures of life before and after the liberation.

"We remember and we should always remember these losses and sacrifices," said Alexander.

Talks of remembrance bring somberness, which prompted Alexander to end his notes on a positive side.

"We should celebrate that we can come, see and learn from history to make sure this doesn't happen again," said Alexander. " We should celebrate the life that we have and how we can make that life so much better through our love for each other."