The 355th Wing at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., hosted its annual Holocaust Remembrance Day Ceremony at the Desert Dove Chapel, May 2, 2019.
By the end of World War II in 1945, more than 6 million European Jews were killed by the Nazi regime or by the conditions they faced while in concentration camps. In 1980, the U.S. Congress established the Days of Remembrance as our nation’s annual commemoration to victims of the Holocaust and their families.
“This is an opportunity to reflect on the unspeakable atrocities committed against humanity that occurred over 70 years ago. It is the humanity in all of us that gives us the power to help shape the future – a future that makes a better world for our children and the prosperity of society,” said Senior Airman Zachary Maughmer, master of ceremonies. “In addition it calls for awareness of and accountability for the genocide and persecution that occurs in the world today.”
The ceremony invited Airmen to listen to guest speakers’ talk about their knowledge of the Holocaust and a survivor’s personal experience.
Professor Susan Crane, University of Arizona associate professor of Modern European History, spoke about the importance of educating one another to ensure the past does not repeat itself.
“The memory of the Holocaust must persist as a mandate for us and for the future – a mandate that we must be vigilant and intolerant, and be intolerant of intolerance at all times, everywhere.” Crane said.
Following the professor’s remarks, a Holocaust survivor recounted his experience. Wolfgang Hellpap was separated from his mother and taken to the Ghettos by the Nazis when he was just a child in the second grade. There, he was able to escape and spent the rest of the war in hiding to evade recapture. Hellpap ended his narrative with life after the Holocaust.
A candle lighting was held to represent the entirety of the circumstance that symbolized the millions who perished during the Holocaust.
“We light the candle for the millions that were never identified, whose entire families were annihilated and who lie in unmarked graves,” said Tech. Sgt Mary Macella, master of ceremonies.
To conclude the ceremony, Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon, Congregation Beit Simcha, Senior Rabbi, recited the Mourner’s Kaddish traditionally said by family members. It has become custom to recite it for all who perished because many Holocaust victims had so survivors.