By Sgt. Ashley DotsonMay 6, 2019
Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas - U.S. Army South hosts the Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston's Day of Remembrance to honor those affected by the Holocaust on May 2.
"This morning we pause to commemorate the Holocaust, to remember the victims and the survivors of that horrific event," said Col. Jose Thompson, U.S. Army South Chief of Staff. "We remember the lives- which ended far too soon. We remember their stories to never forget. In doing so we commit to never allowing this to happen again."
With the theme for this year's observance is 'Acts of Courage' as a back drop, Rabbi Chaim Block discussed how different individuals showed personal courage and stood up for others during the Holocaust.
"During the Holocaust Nazi soldiers loved to humiliate rabbis in front of groups of Jews to demoralize the rest of the community," said Block. "One afternoon soldiers forced the Jews to come to the square as they dragged the rabbi in front of the group. The soldiers began shouting at crude things at the rabbi such as; 'you filthy Jew. Who do you really think is chosen you filthy Jews or us the master race?'
With a fierce look on his eyes Block continued to tell the story, "The rabbi met the soldier's eyes and said 'the Jews are the chosen race.'
He talked about the beating the rabbi received for speaking up that the Jews are the chosen people.
Unfortunately the rabbi passed that afternoon. Many Jews who survived who witnessed this act of hate against the rabbi spread his story throughout the community.
Block told a final story of a baker he had met in Brooklyn, New York who was forced into a cattle rail car and sent to a concentration camp.
"The baker told me that there were hundreds of people crushed into these train cars in the middle of a frigid winter," said Block. "The baker recalled he was very young and there was an older gentleman around his 60s who was just shivering from the cold. The man asked the baker to rub him and help keep him warm so that he could survive the night. The baker did as he asked and said that he rubbed his back all night long to generate heat. By warming up another person the baker also kept himself warm. The next morning everyone in the train car was dead with the exception of the baker and the older gentleman."
With a look of relief Block said the baker credited his survival to warming up another person.
"I leave you of a message of hope, inspiration, and strength," said Block. "Whenever something evil happens like this today the entire world rises up and condemns it. I am certain there is more good and kindness in the world."
Jewish students from Shmuel Bass Torah Academy of San Antonio and U.S. Army South Soldiers lit six candles during the ceremony.
"Lessons we learned from the Holocaust go far beyond religion as they go straight to the heart of our own humanity," concluded Thompson. "I challenge each of you to remain vigilant to reject all forms of prejudice, to refuse or participate or accept bigotry of any form, and to valiantly defend those who are persecuted."