Yesterday, 4/17, was Holocaust remembrance day. Some would say that this day never happened. Many have lived that experience and have survived to talk about it and others happened to come stumble onto those concentration camps when the war was almost over. As each passing year goes by, those folks that have experiences to share about the Holocaust are getting older and fewer in number. Every time I hear one of those individuals speak about their experiences I am sitting at the end of my seat. Everyone in attendance is so silent and fully attentive. One of my travels to Washington DC, I had to make a stop at the Holocaust Museum with my family. I can not tell you in words how I felt during and afterwards. The emotions of listening to and seeing what had happened, just get me every time.
Yesterday, I was one of 1400 lucky individuals that attend an event that was for one persons account of his experience of having witnessed not one, but two, concentration camps as an Army officer that witness the effects of those camps. For 67 years he did not speak of his accounts. He did not tell his family. He is, Colonel Ed Shames a WW II United States Army Easy Company 506th P.I.R. 101st veteran. We were the first people to hear from him about his experience. He discussed with great pride his experiences of being part of the 506th start up! He easily could relive those days and share them with us, as if we were there. Colonel Shames shared his experiences with D-Day, where he received his battle field commission (the first person) and his other battlefield accounts. When it came time for him to discuss and describe what he stumbled on at Dachau, Nazi Germany’s oldest concentration camp, he struggled. He said that he, “witnessed something that no other human being should witness.” He went on to discuss some of what he saw, heard and smelled. This was not an easy thing for him to discuss. He stopped a few times to say, “I am not going to share some of the other things.” He had about 6 other items that he did not share. What he share, the crowd listened.
Overall a wonderful experience. The rail car out front and the story of its journey to Chandler. Listening to Colonel Shames and sharing it with 1400 in attendance. It was another experience around a point in history that we all should make sure we continue to share with the future generations – if to make sure that history will not repeat itself.
We must never forget.