More than 60 years ago hundreds of thousands of people were brutally murdered because of their beliefs, disabilities or skin color. On Monday members of Luke Air Force Base gathered for a Days of Remembrance luncheon to remember them and to make sure it “Never Again” happens.
The U.S. Congress established the Days of Remembrance to be our nation’s annual commemoration of the Holocaust and created the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum as a permanent living memorial to the victims. The museum is in charge of leading the Days of Remembrance and designating a theme. This year’s theme is “Never Again: Heeding the Warning Signs.”
At the lunch Luke Air Force Base members heard from Rabbi John Linder from Temple Solel in Paradise Valley.
“Throughout the Hebrew Bible there are many words, but I want to call attention to one story,” Linder said. “Aaron the brother of Moses was known for being Moses’ mouth piece. When Aaron lost two of his sons, all the story says is Aaron was silent. Today we are silent for those both lost and survivors, we remember them, we honor them.”
The rabbi helped those attending to get an idea of the global reach of the day.
“Today a siren went out over Israel, over Jerusalem,” he said. “People got out of their cars, came out of their homes, and for two minutes all across that great city there was silence. Because just like Aaron sometimes there are not words to describe loss and grief. Sometimes there is only silence.”
Luncheon participants were invited to the Luke Chapel annex to see the Days of Remembrance exhibit.
“It’s like they took a small chunk of the Holocaust Museum and set it up at Luke,” said Chaplain (Capt.) Joseph Fisher, 56th Fighter Wing Chapel.
Retired Capt. Jack Nemerov, who was among the first to enter and liberate Dachau Concentration Camp, was at the exhibit and shared his experiences and talked with those who visited.
“When we came in, they gave us kind of a strange look because they were used to killing squads coming in wearing different colored uniforms, shooting some of them and then leaving,” he said. “We came in wearing khaki uniforms, so they figured we were another killing squad. I walked up to a couple of them who were moving around and stopped them and spoke to them in Jewish. I said, ‘I’m Jewish, and we’re Americans.’ Apparently they didn’t believe that we were real because they reached out to feel the fabric of our uniforms. When they felt that the fabric was real they grabbed us by our arms and wouldn’t let go. They just hung on, and those who had enough moisture in their bodies to weep, cried. We did too.”