Saturday, July 2, 2016
Given the subject on which I wrote this past week, there was a bit of irony that played out tonight as I skimmed through the news. It is especially curious since it was only a couple of weeks ago that I did sit down and write a letter in the hope to reconnect with someone who had been so kind to me in the past. It wasn’t until long after the sun had set and our son was asleep in his bed when I learned about the passing of Elie Wiesel. As I read through the remembrances streaming across my computer, I couldn’t help but think about the moment when I received a letter in the mail with his name in the upper left hand side of the envelope.
While we had never met in person, I did correspond with this wonderful man in the past and I had been fortunate to receive his blessing regarding the poems that I originally wrote about Janusz Korzcak. Words that, while brief, carried the weight of the world and of history. At the time I had doubts about whether my writing was honoring the memories of those lost. I have never been one to rely on the approval of others to write but this is a subject and a project that was a completely different scenario. With a few simple sentences, I had the confidence to continue which resulted in the collection that I published this year, What Was Not Said: Echoes From The Holocaust.
What speaks volumes of his legacy is that my interaction with this great man is not a unique experience. He gave more of his time, his energy, his life not just to ensuring the permanence of memory but to the lives of others in pursuit of knowledge and understanding. Dr. Wiesel supported many of us, from near and far, in more ways than most could ever dream. Some were personal interactions while others only got to know him through his words printed on the pages in one of his fifty seven books, countless essays and articles, and numerous interviews and speeches. I consider myself to be one of the lucky ones to have corresponded with this righteous man.
And when we look back on the life of this great man, there is much that we can learn from not just his words but his actions. While he lived through unimaginable horrors, he chose to live with hope and kindness. He pursued the perpetuation of memory and ensured that it served as a means for achieving peace. He was a beacon for the world shining light not just into the darkness of the past but casting a warm glow on the possibilities of the future. Sometimes he would do this on a grand stage in front of thousands or on television in front of millions but also in a classroom in from of a mere dozens or in a conversation, a letter, a phone call one on one. This is why, for many reasons, I now say I will never forget!