So, here we are, Annie Mac is on a tangent. I have some sort of writing high, and the past few days so many topics have been running through my head.
Recently, while surfing Facebook, a picture came across of a U.S. soldier who had sustained obvious, life altering injuries from serving in the middle east. He sat in a wheel chair. Titanium took the place of one agile and well muscled legs. Today, I caught a rerun of "Saving Private Ryan", directed by Steven Speilberg.. I looked at my husband, a navy veteran himself, and said, "Oh please change the channel, I can't sit through this movie." It's not the movie itself that had me wanting to revolt, but rather the first 30 minutes of absolute violence and the realization of just how many men lost their lives on that fateful day, June 6th, on the shores of Normandy and Omaha Beach. Some things just humble you.
In the movie, Band of Brothers, based upon the book by Stephen Ambrose and directed by Steven Speilberg, a segment of the movie titled, "Why We Fight" and it plays out the days that the camps were liberated across Europe. Freedom of the Camps . If ever you want to see the true crimes against humanity, you need only look into the eyes of someone who has survived that hell on earth. Innocent men, women and children, clinging to fences, dressed is loose fitting black and white striped clothing with yellow Stars of David on their breast pocket. Their crimes? Being Jewish. I still feel shame when I see those images. They haunt me.
I am a Catholic. And of course, I am not old enough to say I remember those days of liberation back in the mid 40's when troops came upon the concentration camps. Some in Germany claim they had no idea what Hitler was up to. They did not think the camps existed. Some people today still claim that the Holocaust never happened. Just how ignorant is man?
Most students in high school are given the Diary of Anne Frank to read as part of their curriculum. I was very blessed to have an incredible English literature teacher my senior year in high school. She was an orthodox Jew. The student body had a rare opportunity to meet Elie Wiesel, a Nobel Peace Prize winning writer and Holocaust Survivor. He spoke to the horrors of the camps. The treatment of prisoners, who were loaded onto trains, shipped to Auschwitz, Belzec, Bergen-Belsen, Buchenwald, Chelmno, Dachau, Janowska, Majdanek, Sobibor and Treblinka. (I have listed only a few of the camps. There are many more) He spoke of the last time he saw his mother. He spoke of the showers, gas chambers, ovens, the stench of human decay and the slow demise of the frail human spirit. But he also spoke of the victory of those who survived and were later rescued.
Anne Frank never survived her internment in the camps. A young girl, with an incredible knack for writing a diary never lived to be able to tell her story in person. However, her heroine was Miep Gies. Ms. Gies was Otto Frank's secretary. When the Nazis started rounding up Jews, Ms. Gies and others hid the Franks. Later, after the Franks were found and deported to their deaths, it was Ms. Giep was found Anne's diary, and kept it until she was able to return it to Mr. Otto Frank, who ultimately survived the camps.
Had Ms. Gies discarded that diary, the world would not know of the testament of true bravery and the saga of a young lady, Anne, who authored it. Millions of school children would not read the story of a girl, not much older than themselves, who had dreams.
Some people see heroes as football players, sports figures, or Joe Paterno, B. Hussein Obama. The real heroes in this world are those who go above and beyond their own safety to do something for their fellow human companions or total strangers.
Ms. Gies passed away a few years ago. January 11, 2010. A quiet, unassuming woman - and how many of my readers can say that they know of her, and what she did for history? The same can be said for the woman at the beginning of this blog who stayed on stage, at the Academy Awards, kept talking as the "get off the stage music" started to play, and spoke about the meaning of clinging to a piece of bread as a lifeline. All while other actors and actresses thanked their parents, the very demure lady stood in front of millions and spoke with great humility on how surviving the camps was a moment in history. She accepted the award on behalf of those who never left the camps. For those who died, without a name, in a striped prison outfit with a gold star. She spoke with grace and dignity to the audience.
As the sporting world mourns the loss of Joe Paterno, I can't help but wonder how we can be so easily swayed to elevate a football coach to greatness when there are those who took steps forward, did the right thing no matter the cost to their own safety, lived through hell and came back from it, wrote about it, and gave us a brief glimpse into history.
One of the charities that John and I donate to is the SHOAH FOUNDATION. Steven Speilberg and countless others have created this foundation in hopes of recording the ever dwindling survivors from the Holocaust. Only when we, as a society can learn from those who went before us, can we attempt to never repeat the atrocities that happened when Hitler thought he was judge and jury.