AL DHAFRA AIR BASE, United Arab Emirates --
The past plays a major role in shaping people into who they are today. Remembering the events that took place years before can ultimately help ensure history doesn’t repeat itself.
The Holocaust was a tragic moment in history that has impacted many families across the world. The U.S. Congress established “Days of Remembrance” to commemorate and honor those affected by the Holocaust.
Al Dhafra Air Base held a remembrance ceremony, April 9, to commemorate the tragedy, honor those affected, and remind attendees of the dangers of extremism.
“The Holocaust exists as a great historical tragedy in the minds of many, but it’s important to understand that this tragedy was engineered,” said Brig. Gen. Larry R. Broadwell, 380th Air Expeditionary Wing commander. “Humans were weaponized against each other in order to benefit those who sought power. In these days of remembrance, we can remember, if we listen. If we listen, we can learn. And if we learn, we can create a world that’s better both today and for generations to come.”
In attendance at the ceremony, and acting keynote speaker, was Alex Peterfreund, Jewish Council of the Emirates co-founder. Peterfreund is a Dubai local who is very familiar with the tragic events that took place in Europe during the rise of the Nazi party. In his speech, he reflected on his dad being put into hiding during the Nazi raids.
“For me this ceremony is very special, almost like closing a circle,” said Peterfreund. “My father was a young Jewish boy in the early 1940s. He tells me the story of when he was a child after he left the family who were hiding him during the war. He was brought to a Jewish orphanage in Antwerp and recalls the American soldiers who came and gave bananas to the children. The kids had never seen bananas so they threw away the fruit itself and ate the peel.
“This is a story I remember and now being able to commemorate my family and their history with American [servicemembers] again is closing the circle and means a lot to me personally.”
The ADAB community took the time to not only honor Holocaust victims and survivors through a ceremony, but also through a 24-hour walk/run. A flag folding ceremony closed out the Holocaust Memorial Days event.
“To honor the memory and to honor you. I’m proud of all of you today, fighting for freedom, not just for Americans, but for all civilization,” said Peterfreund. ”I would also like to give a special ‘thank you’ to this amazing country, the United Arab Emirates. A country of tolerance and a country that opened their doors and their hearts for us Jewish people to live here in freedom.”