Why We Must Honor Holocaust Rememberance Day


This Monday, January 27th, was Holocaust Remembrance Day–a day when we commemorate the tragedy of the Holocaust that occurred during World War II. I woke up on Monday morning with a heavy heart and the thought of six million murdered Jews. I opened my social media to a tide of posts about Holocaust Remembrance Day. I thought about it on my subway ride to school. I recalled my great-grandfather telling me stories of his family that perished at the hands of the Nazis, as he went to fight in the war as a 17 year-old boy.

My grandparents both lived through the Holocaust and survived the war as small children in Eastern Europe. I have met Holocaust survivors, and as I listened to theirs stories, I stared at the numbers forcefully printed on their forearms. The stories of these people are imprinted in my mind. The international community has made this day to honor the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust and millions of other victims of Nazism, to learn about it in order to prevent future genocides.

Yet at school, this topic was not recognized or honored. No one mentioned the reason that this particular Monday was harder to get through. Maybe other teachers mentioned it, maybe other students mentioned it, but I did not hear of it all day. Only 75 years ago Auschwitz was liberated. Only 79 years ago, European Jews were being forced into labor camps and murdered in gas chambers. This Monday was an important day for many, both Jews and Non-Jews. It is a day of respect and remembrance for the innocent humans brutally killed. It is a day to look back at humanities atrocities and ensure that this never happens again. 

Sadly, another day comes to mind when I think of commemoration, 9/11. I walked into school on September 11th and again, this day was neither recognized nor remembered. In my junior year, 9/11 was discussed by a teacher. But even then, I believed strongly that we needed to commemorate this day as a school community by having a moment of silence. Nearly 3,000 people were killed by a horrific terrorist attack. As Americans, as New Yorkers, it is our duty to remember that day. 9/11 was only 19 years ago, when the 110 story buildings fell into the streets of Downtown Manhattan and forever changed the history of our country. This terrorist attack occurred in our lifetime, during our century. 

Why were these days not commemorated? Our society is focused on social justice and activism, and rightfully so. Is this not a part of social activism? To remember the horrific events in our history and say “Never Again”. Never again will we allow terrorism to kill Americans. Never again will allow racism and fascism murder innocent people. To remember these days is to acknowledge that we remember those we lost, and that we will ensure nothing like this ever occurs again. 

There are many admirable things about our school: amazing teachers, tough (but rewarding) classes, and great friends. But in this sphere, BASIS Independent Brooklyn needs to change. It is not only the responsibility of our teachers and school leadership, but also the students. We need to make time and space for a moment of silence on the days where our hearts feel heavier. On the days where innocent people were murdered. We need to take a moment to remember them. This applies not only to Holocaust Remembrance day and 9/11, but to any day that needs remembrance

The events that we remember as a community determine who we are; our values, beliefs, and hopes for our future selves. To remember and honor these days is to take action to ensure they will never happen again. 

My intent is not to criticize, but to affect change. Being a BASIS Independent student has taught and empowered me to speak up when necessary. My teachers have taught me to write about what I believe in, and I am putting those lessons into action. Let’s make it our responsibility to remember these days. Teachers, leadership, and students: All of us must come together to pay our respects and ensure that these atrocities never occur again.