I heard the most unusual story this week. It was on NPR and I tried to find a link to it but couldn’t locate it. But the story has stuck with me and is worthy of a post.
The radio segment originated in Israel where it was Holocaust Remembrance Day this week. If you don’t know what that day is, it is a special day set aside to recall the Holocaust or Shoah. There are official ceremonies around the country but most telling is the moment of the day when sirens sound from one end of the country to the other and everything stops. By everything I mean, tv, radio, people on the sidewalk, and if you’re in the car or bus, you stop where you are and get out and stand in silence until the sirens stop. Here is a link if you want to see what it is like. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OeozUSWdoQA It is a solemn reminder for those who remember and to those who don’t of what exactly transpired a half century ago.
The NPR piece found a most unusual way that someone in Israel used to passed on the tragedy that befell his family. A man, whose own parents were in Auschwitz, got the number tattoo that was placed on his on father by the Nazi’s, tattooed on him. And I should mention that the man getting the tattoo has a family of his own.
His parents – who survived – were against this move although they did go with him to the tattoo parlor. The man explained how he didn’t want his children or anyone else to forget what happened to his family. You have to admit, this is a stark reminder and can’t be ignored. In that he seemed to succeed as the tattoo had prompted his children to ask questions.
It was interesting though what the surviving parents said. As I mentioned, they were against this being done. The father explained that one aspect of being a survivor is to make sure that the next generation doesn’t have to suffer the same way or carry the stigma of what happened. It is to make sure the next generation has it better. Obviously, the tattoo made that memory linger.
I could see the p.o.v. of both sides but I think I was most moved by what the father said it meant to be a survivor. We all survive things and fortunately, most of us will never experience the trauma of what that generation suffered. But when we survive things, we often judge the survival in the context of our own environment. We seldom ask what does our survival or having gotten through an event mean to others? Maybe we should be asking that question more often.