Thursday, July 3, 2014

Happy Fourth of July, Everyone!

I just wanted to wish a "Happy Fourth of July!" to everyone. I also want to specifically thank all those who have helped protect this country and our freedom in the armed forces.

Yesterday, I attended a reading and concert at Osthofen Concentration Camp, which is not far from Heidelberg. The keynote speaker at the reading was Esther Bejarano, who has recently published a book about her experiences in Auschwitz and Ravensbrueck. I plan to write more about this moving experience in a later post, but I just want to quickly share Esther's last account in her book: her liberation.

In March of 1945, Esther escaped from one of the infamous Nazi "death marches" with a number of her friends. Knowing that their rescue was imminent, Esther and her friends had to decide in which direction they were going to run: the Americans were to the west; the Soviets, to the east. They chose to go westward.

When Esther finally met some American soldiers, the Americans took them to an abandoned restaurant to fix them a meal and a bed. The following day, Esther, her friends, Russian soldiers, and the Americans celebrated the downfall of Hitler by gaily dancing around his burning portrait in an empty town square. Esther played the accordion, which she learned to play in Auschwitz.

Although we celebrate freedom and liberty in America today, we should always remember that those rights are not solely American, for nationality does not determine human dignity. All humans, regardless of race, religion, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity (etc.), are deserving of equal respect. It is this belief that we should also celebrate today.

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