Fred S. Zeidman speaks of the importance and challenge of "planting the seeds of remembrance":
“With every successive generation, memory dims. Only the torch you carry can light our way. This is what remembrance is for, and a new generation now takes up that duty.”
—Fred S. Zeidman, Chair, United States Holocaust Memorial Council
November 2, 2003
I come from Wharton, Texas. Like many of your hometowns, it’s a small place that most people have never heard of. But for a fateful decision by my great grandparents to send my grandparents to America, I might have been born in a small town in Poland or Russia, rather than one in Texas.
Already there are young people growing up—in small towns and large cities alike—with only the most cursory education about the Holocaust. My generation has a duty to them—and to you—and we have to fulfill that duty now.
My generation lives at a vital juxtaposition in time. On one side of us are the inspiring examples of survivors and the enduring memory of those who perished. On the other side are generations upon generations who must remember the Holocaust or be at risk of repeating it.
The choice is that direct—and so is the challenge. With every successive generation, memory dims. Only the torch you carry can light our way. This is what remembrance is for, and a new generation now takes up that duty.
The urgency of the task is in our newspapers each day. Violent antisemitism is on the rise throughout the world, and Israel—where so many survivors found a home—is under attack.
As we take up the torch of remembrance, we can only hope to bear it as honorably, as effectively, as you have. We can only hope to be worthy of our people’s ancient tradition— “tikkun olam”—to repair the world.
Repairing the world is an ongoing obligation—a task that never ends. My generation will continue the sacred task, but we must think about generations hence. It is for that reason that today we are literally planting the seeds of remembrance for those unborn generations.
I will now ask our distinguished guests to join me and some of the very youngest members of our special family to bury a time capsule containing an ageless message to the future from this gathering. Our proclamations of today, our affirmations for tomorrow, will now be buried in front of the Museum’s most sacred space, its Hall of Remembrance.
We undertake this ritual for our lost families, for our new families, and for the generations to come. We pledge ourselves and our successors to uphold the torch of remembrance, and accept with a sense of privilege the legacy we have been bequeathed: To participate in whatever ways we can—individual by individual—in the effort to repair our world.