"There's a bit of magic in everything, and some loss to even things out." -Lou Reed

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A Dark Day

I barely know how to begin to put words here tonight. When I heard the news about the shooting at the Holocaust Museum today, it stopped me in my tracks, and muddied the rest of my day. I couldn't stop feeling so angry that this happened, and tried to understand how one person can become so filled with hatred.

I fear the racist gunman was angered by our President's eloquent words after his recent visit to Buchenwald:

"We are here today because we know this work is not yet finished. To this day, there are those who insist that the Holocaust never happened -- a denial of fact and truth that is baseless and ignorant and hateful. This place is the ultimate rebuke to such thoughts; a reminder of our duty to confront those who would tell lies about our history."
The gunman, who will purposely go unnamed in this post, is a white supremacist, and has long been vocal about his beliefs that the holocaust was a "hoax".

To have this tragedy happen in a place of remembrance is just devastating to me. I remember so vividly my visit to this museum, and how, from the moment I stepped in the doors, I was emotional. When you enter, you are given a little passport of sorts. It is an ID booklet, telling about one person who lived or died in a concentration camp. It shows a picture of this actual person, their age, and their story. You walk through the museum, carrying this ID, feeling the weight of one person's story, but also the weight of knowing this is just one of millions. It is a heavy weight, and the journey through the museum is powerful. But, when you leave, you feel a sense of hope, of humanity, of the knowledge you have been given by seeing these things. There is a sense that you have just left an important place, a reminder to all of us of what is possible on both ends of the spectrum of good and evil. To think of something like this happening in that atmosphere is so troubling.

The name I will mention in this post is Stephen Tyrone Johns. Stephen was the security guard killed today at the museum. He was shot immediately by the gunman as he entered. Two other guards returned fire on the gunman, stopping him from going further into the museum and harming or killing countless others. These men did their jobs well, and are heroes.

I want to do something. I hate feeling so powerless when things like this happen. I want to call together groups of people to somehow make this all stop. I want to somehow pour my support towards the museum and the healing of those there today, and the Johns family. I want something RIGHT to eclipse this terrible wrong so that we don't remember this gunman for more than a few flashes of a news ticker. I want to not be so saddened and frustrated because I cannot understand.

But, I think the only thing we can do as caring, compassionate, tolerant, accepting people is keep being this way. Raise our children this way. Treat others this way. And above all, somehow, don't lose hope.

And in the meantime, heed these words from our President:

"And it is now up to us, the living, in our work, wherever we are, to resist injustice and intolerance and indifference in whatever forms they may take, and ensure that those who were lost here did not go in vain. It is up to us to redeem that faith. It is up to us to bear witness; to ensure that the world continues to note what happened here; to remember all those who survived and all those who perished, and to remember them not just as victims, but also as individuals who hoped and loved and dreamed just like us."

Read President Obama's entire speech here.
Read more about today's tragedy here.
Visit and support the Museum website here.


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