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Organizing a Commemoration



Transcript

Sara Bloomfield, Director, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum:
In 1980, under President Carter, there was Congressional legislation that mandated an annual commemoration that would be nationwide and charged the museum with leading that commemoration. Ours in Washington takes place in the Rotunda of the United States Capitol building. But then they take place all around the country, in city halls, in churches, in synagogues, in community centers, and around the world on our U.S. military installations abroad.

Scott Miller, Director, Curatorial Affairs, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum:
The observance isn’t really just for the Jewish community. It’s not just for the victims. It’s really for all of America to understand what happened and to some way participate.

[Text on screen] Days of Remembrance commemorations take many forms in communities across the country.

Rev. Dr. Chris Leighton, Institute for Christian and Jewish Studies:
Sometimes Days of Remembrance involve reflections, involve music, involve readings.

Paul Garver, Director, Museum Services, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum:
For example, have a Holocaust survivor speak about that survivor’s experiences. Have that reading of names to honor and remember those who were murdered by the Nazis.

[Text on screen] Days of Remembrance commemorations can involve students of all ages as well as the local community.

Cathleen Cadigan, High School Teacher, Dallas, Texas:
In my community, there’s a traditional Days of Remembrance event. But for me, that doesn’t suit the needs of my class. We invite their classmates, my colleagues, my mother. We invite the middle school next door. We invite members of the community, survivors, liberators. And it’s very empowering for my students to have the opportunity to not only share the history of the Holocaust but to have conversations about why it is relevant today.

Kim Klett, High School Teacher, Gilbert, Arizona:
I always do a Day of Remembrance at my high school. I invite the entire school, and we fit as many as we can into the auditorium. I have a lot of displays and information sheets that kids can pick up.

[Text on screen] Days of Remembrance commemorations take place on U.S. military bases around the world.

Col. Michael Underkofler, U.S. Air Force Reserve:
My activities have been helping to organize the base Days of Remembrance event. Each base is different, and each base is at a different level as to where they are with their remembrance.

Lt. Col. Terrance Sanders, U.S. Army:
Don’t just think about what you’ve been doing as part of a template. Look at other materials. Embrace the aspect of doing a week-long series of movies. Bring about discussion. Talk about what happened.

Col. Michael Underkofler, U.S. Air Force Reserve:
I’ve seen it where the first year you start out small, the next year you get bigger, and the base population becomes more and more involved as you continue to educate them about the events you’re going to do. A young airman that attended a Days of Remembrance one year, the next year, he’ll volunteer to organize the library display, or they’ll make posters, or they’ll want to write an article. And it just continues to grow and grow. One good experience will just multiply great work.

[Text on screen] Days of Remembrance commemorations help bring faith communities together.

Rev. Dr. Carol Flett, Washington National Cathedral:
It helps neighbors to understand each other as part of the same community, as being neighbors, and as being part of the family of God.

Rabbi M. Bruce Lustig, Washington Hebrew Congregation:
These things come together with much greater ease than one might think. When we come together and we talk about who to honor, and somebody immediately says, “You know, my uncle was a liberator, and I actually have a letter from my uncle that he sent back.” Or someone else says, “You know, my grandmother is a survivor, and I have a poem that she wrote.” These are things that come to life, and people come and bear their own gifts. And I think that once you give them the opportunity, that it doesn’t have to be overwhelming.

Rev. Dr. Chris Leighton, Institute for Christian and Jewish Studies:
A number of interfaith settings take place on neutral space.

Where there’s a Holocaust memorial. They can be in community centers.

Rev. Dr. Carol Flett, Washington National Cathedral:
Public libraries, a school auditorium. A week night, a school night, is often the best night, when people usually don’t have other commitments. It doesn’t conflict with other religious observances.

Rabbi M. Bruce Lustig, Washington Hebrew Congregation:
It’s an amazing opportunity to bring people together, because that act of honoring the past and honoring those who fought so diligently to free the world of such atrocities is an important act that was not done by Jews or Christians or Muslims alone, but was done by people coming together and overcoming evil and having a new day.

[Text on screen] Resources to help organize a Days of Remembrance commemoration are found throughout this planning guide, including sample programs, selected readings, and videos to show at a commemoration.

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