After spending time recently in a meeting of the Tennessee House Agriculture Committee as they discussed things I consider important to me, as well as for the good of farming in our great state, when the meeting adjourned, I took the opportunity to venture further up the halls of our state’s Capitol building. Each day there is always something new going on and this certain day was one of those days when the legislative halls were busy with activity.
After passing numerous legislators huddled with those who were seeking their help on certain legislation, I approached a display of numerous easels containing black and white images of individuals who lived in the Middle Tennessee area who were Holocaust survivors. Along with the large plain images were stories written in each survivor’s own words about what had happened during those days of World War II. The display had been placed there on that day for a special recognition to occur in the Old Supreme Court Chambers honoring the survivors and their families.
The stories that each easel bore were haunting and I could not stop reading how each one of these individuals faced something that I pray no one will ever have to go through again. As I read, a lady approached me and seemed to be close to my age. She asked me if the ceremonies were over and I assured her that they were not and that she was actually early with time to spare. She began explaining that she had arrived at the Capitol to represent her mother who had lived through the horrors of a Nazi camp and now lived in Nashville. I told her how I had been touched by the display and how proud she must be of the courage her mother must have had to survive such an ordeal.
With tears in her eyes, she told me that her mother had really wanted to be there that day but was afraid. She said, “Before I left home this morning, my mother told me she was afraid to come because she may have to tell her name in a large public gathering and that was the way she was caught before. After all these years, she still has the fear of someone coming and getting her to take her back.”
The lady thanked me for my help and headed up the stairs for the ceremonies, but what she had shared with me that day in our state Capitol made me appreciate even more the life I have been able to live in this great country. To think that after all these many years, the fear of such an evil government is still there. That should tell us all we have truly been blessed to have been born here.
Just like that lady, being punished for the simple reason of being different, this country was created by those who sought to be different in their own way. It takes the courage of others at times to bring us back to what is really important. To that lady that morning, what was important was getting to that ceremony to honor her mother, but yet she also took the time to tell me her mother’s story of sacrifice which may have honored her mother even more than any ceremonial display could have accomplished. I will always remember that lady’s tears on that special day and what her mother went through, just because she was different, along with the others from the Holocaust.
We are soon coming up on a special holiday to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for this country. Memorial Day is an opportunity to take your children to a national cemetery and explain that Memorial Day is more than a trip to the lake or the kick-off date for opening the swimming pool. It is a time to reflect and remember that without those men and women who now rest under those thousands of little flags in our cemeteries, we too could have been living with the fear of someone knowing our name and coming and getting us some day just because we may be different. May God continue to bless America and may we remember those who gave all for our freedom this Memorial Day.
– Pettus L. Read may be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com