Holocaust Remembrance Day

Honoring the experiences of our Elders

Holocaust Remembrance Day: Honoring the Experiences of our Elders

“We must be listened to: above and beyond our personal experience, we have collectively witnessed a fundamental unexpected event, fundamental precisely because unexpected, not foreseen by anyone. It happened, therefore it can happen again: this is the core of what we have to say. It can happen, and it can happen everywhere.” — Primo Levi

April 24, 2017. On this warm spring day people around the world are commemorating Holocaust Remembrance Day. As we remember the overwhelming tragedy of the Holocaust and all its victims I found myself thinking about elders in our care who are themselves Holocaust Survivors. How do we best honor the experiences of those survivors that are in our care?

Over the years, I have had the honor of speaking with several of our clients who are Holocaust survivors. I have been fortunate enough to have some of them freely share their experiences with me. I have been honored and humbled by their willingness to share their stories. Have been left at my desk teary-eyed at the unimaginable things that these souls have witnessed and had to go through, family members lost, stolen youth and the horror of concentration camps.

These stories have stuck with me. They cling to my mind as if I only just heard them yesterday. I feel an obligation to remember these survivors, people who have had no choice but to be stronger than most people will ever be. Their perseverance and kindness in the face of everything they’ve seen has left an impact on me that words can never explain.

How can we ever possibly honor the experiences of Holocaust survivors? Sometimes words simply aren’t enough. Remembrance is personal, everyone is different. Action, however, seems the proper way to honor and remember the living memory of Holocaust Survivors. Some action can be simple, talk to elders if they are willing to share their story (I cannot stress enough though not to push someone into talking). Donate to the Holocaust Memorial Museum or Yad Vashem, Organizations that keep the memory of the Holocaust alive and have an education-orientated mission to ensure that future generations are educated about the holocaust.

Most importantly tough? Listen. Listen and remember the stories you hear and the survivors you meet. Let them never be forgotten. Let their stories be remembered and may you carry them with you. This simple yet incredibly hard action honors the victims and keeps their memory alive.

-Michelle McGonagle


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