An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Study history, learn from hatred

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Tomsanna Farley
  • 451st AEW Equal Opportunity
One person may not have been responsible for the Holocaust, but we are each individually responsible and accountable for putting an end to hatred.

This hatred may be present in our lives, workcenters or during a deployment. Examples of hatred include racial slurs, insensitive comments, insulting another's race or beliefs. Many think it's OK, if no one is offended, right? Wrong. Accountability for our actions and self responsibility may include making an unpopular decision or going against the majority.

On April 12, 1951, Israel's parliament proclaimed "Yom Hashoah U'Mered HaGetaot," which means Holocaust and Ghetto Revolt Remembrance Day. The name was later simplified to Yom Hashoah or the Jewish reverenced "Days of Remembrance." This year, Yom Hashoah is May 1.

This year, as Team Kandahar approaches the Days of Remembrance, we mark the 60th anniversary of the Nuremberg Trails. The national theme is, "Justice and Accountability in the Face of Genocide." No trial provides a better basis for understanding the nature and causes of evil than the historic Nuremberg trials which took place from 1945 to 1949. Those who attended the trials expected to find sadistic monsters.

They were generally disappointed.

What is shocking about Nuremberg is the ordinariness of the defendants: men who were good fathers, kind to animals, even unassuming--yet committed unspeakable crimes. Years later, reporting on the trial of Adolf Eichmann, Hannah Arendt wrote of "The Banality of Evil." Like Eichmann, most Nuremberg defendants never aspired to be villains. Rather, they over-identified with an ideological cause and suffered from a lack of imagination or empathy. They couldn't fully appreciate the human consequences of their career-motivated decisions.

The defendants were good people, educated physicians, but in the end were held accountable for their actions. The Holocaust epitomized how a seemingly harmless idea can extinguish the spark inside one person and end the lives of millions more.

"The Holocaust did not finish in 1945" said Judea Pearl as she watched her son's name being inscribed into the Holocaust Memorial Wall in Florida. Her son, American journalist Daniel Pearl, was captured and brutally murdered by terrorists in 2002. Although not murdered during the Holocaust, Daniel still died by the hands of hatred.

As we defend our freedom and fight so others can keep theirs, we must start with ourselves. We all must have moral courage and accountability for our actions. While hatred plagued Europe during the Holocaust, the influence clearly still exists in today's world. We constantly encounter people, situations, beliefs and ideas that deaden the spark of humanity.

In the heat of the moment it seems impossible to have moral courage and accountability; we can easily buckle in the face of adversity. The Holocaust serves as one of history's most sobering warnings that we must chose to not yield in a time of crisis. No matter how serious the circumstances or how high the stakes, there are lines we will not cross and we are all accountable.

As we approach the Days of Remembrance, I challenge each Team Kandahar member to research the name and history of a Holocaust victim. By remembering a victim you will honor their struggle and the adversity they faced. Let Team Kandahar speak out against the discrimination, prejudice, violence and hatred that has so long stained our history. Exercising moral courage and accountability enables us to stand for those who could not, speak for those who were silenced, and live for those who were murdered.