Contributed by T. Melissa Hue

City of Lewiston

Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Today January 27, 2022, we recognize International Holocaust Remembrance day (Yom HaShoah), a day that marks the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps and the end of the Holocaust resulting in the murder of over 6 million Jewish people. Now more than ever, as we see an increase in social fragility across America through the rise of anti-Semitism, xenophobia, racism, discrimination and hate crimes—not only nationally but also globally—it’s important to remember the sentiments of this day.

At this junction in time, where the hauntings of the past meet the actions of the present, it is necessary to remember the vital lessons. We must hear the words of over 6 million murdered Jewish people, whose voices were stolen and lives were never allowed to begin. We must also remember that acts of genocide never begin with extreme violence, bullets, and death but with the simplicity of words cultivated in hatred and divisiveness. We must read the blueprint of history and understand the uncanny parallels between the rise in hate, the refusal of refugees, and the infliction of discrimination seen in WWII and  in the attitudes often projected in current our day. We must not remember the Holocaust as part of ancient history but as just one hug away from a grandparent’s or great grandparent’s lived reality.

This year International Holocaust Remembrance Day extends beyond remembering the events of WWII.  Through recognizing all victims of genocide and honoring those murdered for their individualities, we remind those who survived and continue to survive such heinous acts of inhumanity that there is purpose in their survival—and that is to live. We must prevent such monstrosities in our present society. The Holocaust sadly taught us about the darkness in the world but also powerfully reminded us that embracing humanity is how we overcome.

Please take a moment of silence for the lives lost, a moment of reflection on where we are today, and a special moment for all those who sought refuge in Maine.