Monday, July 12, 2010

I will survive

As a child I became enamored with the World War II when I first discovered the Time Life Series on the war. In the many years since I have been privileged to talk to many men who served in that great conflict. Those who firsthand saw the triumph and agony of those years of war. Those who sacrificed their very existence to secure freedom for the rest of us. Them most poignant of my memories of these discussions were the men and women I talked to who liberated and suffered in the death camps of Nazi Germany.

The survivors tell a story of horrific survival. Stories that would, and should break the heart of the most hardened person. The liberators tell the story of the discovery of the ovens, the gas chambers, the lamps and shades made of human skin, and the emaciated children.

I have seen the marks tattooed on the arms of the survivors. The hollow stare in their eyes as they speak of the conditions and friends lost. I have heard of stories of surviving only on weak soup and small pieces of stale bread. The sorrow of retelling of the loss of loved ones that they had to bury. The cruelty of their captors.

There is nothing joyful about the stories. There is no bright spot in the darkness.

But today I came across a video that was joyful. It was hopeful. It caused me to cry. It was a video of a survivor and his family dancing to “I Will Survive” in front of former death camps, on death trains, and in front of Memorials.

There was no bright spot then, but for those who survived the world is freedom. And for all of us there is hope.