HomeNewsArticle Display

One candle for millions

This year the Holocaust Remembrance Day, also known as Yom HaShoah, begins on the evening May 4th and ends 24 hours later on May 5th. The day is to remember the heroism of the approximately 6 million Jews who perished in the Holocaust as a result of the actions carried out by Nazi Germany and its accessories.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Racheal E. Watson/Released)

This year the Holocaust Remembrance Day, also known as Yom HaShoah, begins on the evening May 4th and ends 24 hours later on May 5th. The day is to remember the heroism of the approximately 6 million Jews who perished in the Holocaust as a result of the actions carried out by Nazi Germany and its accessories. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Racheal E. Watson/Released)

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- The doors opened and I am pushed inside with a large group of people. We were packed in so tight, I tried to make myself smaller just so I can have a few extra inches around me to breathe only to have what little space I was able to spare filled by another body. The doors closed and I could barely move. I only traveled up three floors in an elevator, but time seemed to stand still. The doors slid open and the smell of old worn leather was so overpowering it was almost nauseating.

One day each year is set aside to remember the heroism of the approximately 6 million Jews who perished in the Holocaust as a result of the actions carried out by Nazi Germany and its accessories. This year the Holocaust Remembrance Day, also known as Yom HaShoah, begins on the evening of May 4th and ends 24 hours later on May 5th.  

Years ago when I was a young child I visited the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. as a school field trip to get a better understanding of what my ancestors endured. Being packed in an elevator tighter than a sardine in a can for a few minutes was only a small taste of what millions suffered through during their treks to the concentration camps.  

During the era of the Holocaust, German authorities targeted not only the Jewish community but other groups because they were perceived as inferior, to include Roma Gypsies, the disabled, some Slavic communities, Jehovah's Witnesses and homosexuals, while others were persecuted for their political beliefs.

Spanning three floors, there were wall-to-wall photographs from people of the past. I heard voices playing in the background recalling horrific things they underwent or saw their family and friends withstand. Then, the familiar sound of gunfire followed by distinct echo of lifeless bodies hitting the ground; the firing squad executing the inferior. 

It felt like everywhere I turned there were either fearful eyes staring back at me or photographs of lifeless bodies discarded like piles of trash waiting either to be thrown into the flames of an incinerator or a mass grave. 

The atmosphere lingered with feelings of fear and pain as I walked through each exhibit. 

In the Holocaust Museum, overlooking the center of the museum, there is a glass wall with etched names in white. On the third floor, there it was; the name of my ancestors.

The overpowering feelings of sorrow and rage engulfed me to the point where a museum worker had to escort me out of the exhibit area. I only saw the third floor of the museum, which is the first floor of the exhibit after exiting the elevator.

I traveled back two other times after my school field trip to see if I could make it past that point in the museum, but even decades later it has been too soul crushing to push beyond that point.

Every year on the Holocaust Remembrance Day, I recall the feelings I had riding in the elevator and the all-consuming smell of the old worn leather when the doors opened only to think mankind needs to make sure all their deaths have posthumous meaning.
USAF Comments Policy
If you wish to comment, use the text box below. AF reserves the right to modify this policy at any time.

This is a moderated forum. That means all comments will be reviewed before posting. In addition, we expect that participants will treat each other, as well as our agency and our employees, with respect. We will not post comments that contain abusive or vulgar language, spam, hate speech, personal attacks, violate EEO policy, are offensive to other or similar content. We will not post comments that are spam, are clearly "off topic", promote services or products, infringe copyright protected material, or contain any links that don't contribute to the discussion. Comments that make unsupported accusations will also not be posted. The AF and the AF alone will make a determination as to which comments will be posted. Any references to commercial entities, products, services, or other non-governmental organizations or individuals that remain on the site are provided solely for the information of individuals using this page. These references are not intended to reflect the opinion of the AF, DoD, the United States, or its officers or employees concerning the significance, priority, or importance to be given the referenced entity, product, service, or organization. Such references are not an official or personal endorsement of any product, person, or service, and may not be quoted or reproduced for the purpose of stating or implying AF endorsement or approval of any product, person, or service.

Any comments that report criminal activity including: suicidal behaviour or sexual assault will be reported to appropriate authorities including OSI. This forum is not:

  • This forum is not to be used to report criminal activity. If you have information for law enforcement, please contact OSI or your local police agency.
  • Do not submit unsolicited proposals, or other business ideas or inquiries to this forum. This site is not to be used for contracting or commercial business.
  • This forum may not be used for the submission of any claim, demand, informal or formal complaint, or any other form of legal and/or administrative notice or process, or for the exhaustion of any legal and/or administrative remedy.

AF does not guarantee or warrant that any information posted by individuals on this forum is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. AF may not be able to verify, does not warrant or guarantee, and assumes no liability for anything posted on this website by any other person. AF does not endorse, support or otherwise promote any private or commercial entity or the information, products or services contained on those websites that may be reached through links on our website.

Members of the media are asked to send questions to the public affairs through their normal channels and to refrain from submitting questions here as comments. Reporter questions will not be posted. We recognize that the Web is a 24/7 medium, and your comments are welcome at any time. However, given the need to manage federal resources, moderating and posting of comments will occur during regular business hours Monday through Friday. Comments submitted after hours or on weekends will be read and posted as early as possible; in most cases, this means the next business day.

For the benefit of robust discussion, we ask that comments remain "on-topic." This means that comments will be posted only as it relates to the topic that is being discussed within the blog post. The views expressed on the site by non-federal commentators do not necessarily reflect the official views of the AF or the Federal Government.

To protect your own privacy and the privacy of others, please do not include personally identifiable information, such as name, Social Security number, DoD ID number, OSI Case number, phone numbers or email addresses in the body of your comment. If you do voluntarily include personally identifiable information in your comment, such as your name, that comment may or may not be posted on the page. If your comment is posted, your name will not be redacted or removed. In no circumstances will comments be posted that contain Social Security numbers, DoD ID numbers, OSI case numbers, addresses, email address or phone numbers. The default for the posting of comments is "anonymous", but if you opt not to, any information, including your login name, may be displayed on our site.

Thank you for taking the time to read this comment policy. We encourage your participation in our discussion and look forward to an active exchange of ideas.