Opinion: A Look Back, A Look Ahead

By: McKenzie Kemper, Freelance Community Writer

76 years ago this week Auschwitz Concentration Camp was liberated. 76 years ago, we as Allied Forces, brought an end to yet another dark chapter in human history. We brought to justice the persons we could find who had committed horrific crimes, and dramatically updated the Geneva Conventions. We honored those lost, celebrated those who gave their all, and swore that never again would we allow such a tragedy to occur. 

I am fortunate to have been to the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC, to have felt the empty, hollow pain of loss as you see a sea of abandoned shoes last worn by persons who were about to take a shower in gas chambers. I am fortunate to have listened to Miep Geis, the woman who protected Anne Frank and her family, speak about what it was like to work in the Resistance. I have read, and listened, and learned at the feet of many who have survived unspeakable loss and horror but still stand strong enough to tell their stories, to share the numbers tattooed on the arms. 

It seems that somewhere in the last decade, or so, many people stopped listening, stopped learning, stopped looking to the past to see how history was slowly repeating itself. We stopped teaching about the horrors of the Holocaust in our classrooms and started stoking the fires of hate that have long burned in the fibers of our country. In 2016 the nation decided that hatred of others couldn’t be so bad if it came from someone who promised change for them, we brought to power a person who mocks the disabled and happily assaults women and then acted surprised when he called racists very fine people. We watched, in horror, as our Capitol was stormed, and then listened to the leader of the free world tell people who just hours before had wanted to murder his Vice President that he loved them. 

History is repeating itself and I fear we are not doing much to stop it, much like when Hitler came to power the voices that cry out in the wind are silenced or shamed and we, as a nation, are left powerless as people with bank rolls far deeper than the average human being play us like puppets and then blame the problems we have on persons of color or immigrants. 

Our country has problems, we were built on problems, and created by thieves. It’s complicated to be proud to be an American but not proud of America as she is these days. It’s scary to watch persons like Trump continue to maintain power despite their term of “leadership” coming to an end. The cracks of battle lines have been drawn in families, towns, and states but if we do not figure out how to come together;  If we do not have a reckoning of the systemic racism that runs rampant in our core, and we do not do all we can to suck the poison that Trump so thoughtfully brought to the top out of our country then I fear in 76 years another writer will be writing about a different genocide that took place on our soil. I have said this before, but I feel it bears repeating, President Biden and Vice President Harris cannot be our excuse to remain complacent when there are so many people actively still in power spouting hatred and fear mongering. We will never be perfect, we are compromised of flawed human beings, but our greatest strength comes in standing United against hate and fighting to truly make America better than before. 

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