Today, January 27th in the year of our Lord 2016, is International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
The Holocaust forced us all--every man, woman and child--to confront just how inhumane we humans are capable of being.
The most important thing we need to reflect upon today is this: the Holocaust showed us just what horrors we humans are capable of afflicting upon our fellow man...and it also showed us what heroism can be achieved in the face of it.
The heroes who, against all odds, survived. And the heroes who gave their very lives fighting to rid the world of the evil...to slap down the Axis like a whole posse of Captain Americas.
It's the many people who risked their lives helping others to hide and escape. Heroes--and heroines--who stood up and did what they could to save the lives the Nazis had declared to be worthless. People like...
...Irene Sendler, who smuggled some 2500 Jewish children out of the Warsaw Ghetto. When she was caught, she was tortured by the Nazis, who wanted to force her to give up the names of her co-conspirators. She never did.
And it's in the warriors who stood up against it and fought--far too often to their deaths--to put an end to the evil and bring back justice, hope and love. No evil can stand against that...not even the greatest evil human in history.
Both of my grandfathers served in WWII (one in the Blitz, one in Okinawa).
Both were proud of their contributions in defending our way of life against the Third Reich. They are both gone now, but the pride lives on, in their descendants.
My Papaw in his Navy uniform.
It's a feeling I share with untold numbers of people all over the world: the man whose father was a Freedom Fighter in France; the granddaughter of a British soldier who died in the North African campaigns; the Roma family in Chicago who gently and proudly display the few possessions their family was able to save when they fled Europe; the widow who proudly stands with her children and grandchildren during the Veteran's Day parades; the young man getting an exact copy of his great-grandfather's naval tattoo of the ship he went down in; the mother taking her small babies to put down flowers on the grave of the father she never knew.
It is up to us, all of us, to keep their heroism and sacrifices alive, through memorials, movies, books, art, blog posts. It stays alive with every telling of the stories to each new generation.
They will forever be the real superheroes, who went up against a villain of monstrous proportions...and triumphed.