The United States Congress established the Days of Remembrance as our nation’s annual commemoration of the Holocaust. This genocide was the state-directed, systematic destruction of six million European Jews and millions of others, ranging from homosexuals and Soviet POWs to Roma and people with real and imagined disabilities by the Germans and their collaborators between 1933 and 1945.
Since 1982, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, created by Congress as a permanent living memorial to this genocide’s victims, has organized and led the national Days of Remembrance ceremony in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda. Year after year, the museum staff marks this event together with Holocaust survivors, liberators, members of Congress, White House officials, the diplomatic corps and community leaders.
The recalling of the names of the deceased and murdered is not only an important part of Jewish religious practices, it also serves as a practice for individuals of all backgrounds, faiths and cultures to commemorate the victims. Much more than a devastating part of Jewish history, the Holocaust is truly an event in global history. This year’s theme, as set by the Holocaust Museum, focuses on “Confronting the Holocaust: American Responses.” It not only allows us to praise the American troops’ contributions to defeating Nazi Germany and liberating camps like Buchenwald, but it also reminds us to be ever vigilant, particularly in light of the United States’ failure to fill the immigration quotas and provide a safe haven for more persecuted European Jews.
In recent years, Davidson College has followed the call of the museum and Congress and held annual commemorations on Holocaust Remembrance Day. The Holocaust’s crimes of unimaginable cruelty offer opportunities to recommit to the need for respect for all people and to reflect on the moral responsibilities of individuals and communities today.
Knobloch Campus Center Alvarez-Mariam Cannon Hayes Outdoor Amphitheatre
Sachs, Hannah J