“Lord, we pause and remember the millions who were murdered. May they not die in vain, but help us to learn from the past, to learn about ourselves and to learn about each other,” Col. Robert Nay told the audience at a Holocaust Remembrance ceremony at Camp Zama, Japan in 2015.Nay, now the U.S. Security Assistance Command’s chaplain, has had a lifelong fascination with history and grew up reading books on presidents and the Holocaust.Over the course of his career, he’s accumulated a bachelor’s in history, a master’s in military arts and science with an emphasis on military history and he holds the Army skill identifier of 5X, which identifies him as a military historian. He also published several works on the history of the Army chaplaincy.Like many professional Soldiers, Nay read the classic book, the Art of War, for part of his leadership development. The book stressed the “moral” and political aspects of war and contends that war was supposed to be the last means to a political solution.“I’ve always wondered how war, and in particular, Soldiers can solve the problems of the world,” Nay said.“When we hear or see a mother being shot we are moved with emotion. When we see a group of people, or hear that 6 million people were killed, we find it overwhelming and unbelievable.”Psychologists call that phenomenon the collapse of compassion.For that presentation in 2015, Nay showed horrific photos and shared detailed descriptions of what American Soldiers saw when they liberated hundreds of camps and subcamps around Europe.During 2020, the Department of Defense is commemorating the 75th anniversary of World War II by recognizing the contributions and sacrifices made by service members as well as those who served on the home front.The Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute, which provides support for implementing EO programs, designated the theme and the poster for this year’s Holocaust Days of Remembrance. The theme, “Liberation,” is aligned with this year’s enduring theme, “Honoring the Past, Securing the Future.”Generals Dwight Eisenhower and George Patton both saw firsthand the horror of the camps. It was reported that Patton wouldn’t go into one room with 20-30 bodies, for fear of getting sick to his stomach.“The visual evidence and the verbal testimony of starvation, cruelty and bestiality were ... overpowering … I made the visit deliberately in order to be in a position to give firsthand evidence of these things if ever, in the future, there develops a tendency to charge these allegations merely to ‘propaganda,’” Eisenhower wrote in a letter to Gen. George Marshall, dated April 15, 1945.The Allies sent Soldiers throughout Germany collecting rosters, train records, medical records, building expenses, records of meetings and anything else that contributed to proving mass murder.Allied servicemen, who spoke German, organized millions of documents and almost 3,000 tons of records using the words and legal documents as a way to prove their cases.According to Nay, it was the Soldiers and leaders in that difficult time, who went through great lengths to preserve and record what they saw, and allow the world and future generations to remember the atrocities of the Holocaust.“I propose that despite the horrible experiences these Soldiers encountered, they took the experiences and memories and became better people,” Nay said. “They also changed, for the better, the way the military did things and they also made our country a better place.”The U.S. military saw the great lengths the Nazis went to in order to destroy the evidence: the ovens that were still warm from burning the human remains, the ashes that were dumped in the river only to provide a new bed on the bottom of the river, or the pile of ashes that remain even to this day at the Majdanek camp in Poland.Less they forget the horrors that happened in their communities, Allied Soldiers would gather the local population, regardless of their age and gender and force them to look upon the horrors. The purpose of the viewing was to prevent them from saying that it never happened.Eisenhower ordered that local German civilians be forced to view the camps, while Allied leaders in the field forced German prisoners of war to watch films about the horrors of the camps.“Again, the Allies wanted justice, but they also wanted the German people, and us, to remember what happened,” Nay said. “The leaders of the Allies saw the horrors the military committed upon civilians and they realized how important character is to being a Soldier.”What followed was a fundamental shift in U.S. military doctrine and training for character guidance classes, with lectures covering everything from how to be a good citizen, how to be a good Soldier, respecting others and personal care.“One could say that our Army’s Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention program, and even our monthly cultural and remembrance events were founded upon the lessons learned from the Holocaust,” Nay said.“In our battle and operational meetings, do we ever lose sight of the moral ethical implications? That is why the Army developed the ethical decision-making process which should be used in our military decision making process. The new Army Design Methodology encourages moral and ethical influences upon decisions. All of this came from the experiences from the Holocaust.”Eisenhower’s experiences of the Holocaust, as horrible as they were, shaped his future presidential policies and decisions, according to Nay.Now, more than 75 years later, and with the daily passing of survivors, witnesses and liberators, the memories of the horrific events of the Holocaust fade further into history. But we shall never forget.In remembrance, however, the U.S. not only honors those who perished in the Holocaust, but also those that witnessed the sights, sounds and smells of the concentration camp.“This horror changed the way they viewed themselves by looking at their personal character, this horror also changed the way they viewed one another, that life is special regardless of age, race or gender and the result was a better society,” Nay said. “I believe the challenge for us today, especially in another very difficult time with this global pandemic, is to remain vigilant with our own character, to look out for the betterment of others, to improve our society instead of giving up.”Editor’s note: To view more information from USASAC’s Holocaust Remembrance, go to their Facebook page or view the Holocaust Remembrance video produced by USASAC's Tim Hanson.