A Challenge to Make a Difference

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Tammy Johnston
  • 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing Chapel

SOUTHWEST ASIA -- When I was first asked to take on the task of Chair President for the Holocaust Remembrance event my first thought was, “No thank you. Why would I want to by the lead on such a depressing and devastating event in history?”

After some deeper reflection, I decided to embrace the project and make it more than just one night where we showed “Boy in the Striped Pajamas” or “Schindler’s List.” I wanted to make it an event to remember. Go big or go home, right?

My committee and I decided to put together a 5 day event, because after all, the DOD directive is a full week of remembrance. We had a museum, memory walks and a memory wall where people could come to learn and reflect on the tragic events that took place during the Holocaust.

I learned a lot during the process of putting together this event. For weeks I spent time posting stories and pictures onto the poster boards getting them ready for the museum. The more I read, the more I cried, got angry at the horror of it all and then the more I wanted to share.

Now, everyone loves to come to fun events. But it’s hard as humans to face the fact that we are part of a not so fun historical past and events like the holocaust are a hard pill to swallow. Regardless if we were on the winning side of that war, the truth is, human nature is tainted and there are those that cause bad things to happen to good people.

We go to museums and do memory walks not only to learn about our history, but to hopefully learn from our mistakes. We leave feeling empty, sad and devastated knowing that others were discriminated against due to the mere fact that they were different from what might be considered at the time “The superior race”. Then we feel good about ourselves because we went and felt bad about what we saw.

Unfortunately we have not all learned from our tragic past. The word holocaust and genocide now go hand and hand. To this day innocent lives are being persecuted simply because they are different; different skin color, religion, sexual preference and beliefs. So I ask you, “When will we really stop repeating our past mistakes?”

Over six million people were killed during the holocaust. That’s roughly the population of the entire state of Tennessee. If we are going to survive as a human race we need to be diligent in making sure that those around us are educated and aware of our world and nations history. We need to teach others that all human life is to be valued.

As I read this article back to myself I can’t help but think, “Boy, this sounds preachy.” But sometimes preachy is good when it’s coming from the heart. If you’re thinking “Well, I’m only one person; what can I do?” Join the club. But know this: over 100 people were educated during our holocaust remembrance event and that was in a deployed location with limited resources proving that a little effort goes a long way.

So in closing I challenge you all to be a part of that small percentage of people who care enough to reach out and get a movement started for the good of another or to raise awareness for a worthwhile cause. Do something that you can say “Hey, I was part of that, and it felt great!”