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Holocaust Remembrance Week

MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, South Carolina -- When we think about diversity, it seems like we often focus on racial or gender differences that we strive to celebrate and embrace. Sometimes we overlook or even fail to care about religious diversity. This can have devastating effects. We think back to the condition of Central Europe during the early years of Nazi Germany and feel like that could never happen. We could never allow conditions to exist where genocide, due to race or religion, would happen again.

Sometimes we allow ourselves to discriminate with what we think is acceptable, or no big deal, in comparison. Those are the baby steps that lead to the major incidents. The theme for this Holocaust Remembrance Week, April 7-14 is "Never Again: Heeding the Warning Signs."

The first place we must look is within ourselves. Do we allow stereotypes to determine how we think of another based on their religion? Do we diminish another's beliefs because they are different from our own? It is in examining ourselves and the inner thoughts that we allow to foster, we will be able to create change.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran minister and participating conspirator in the plot to overthrow Adolph Hitler lends perspective when he says, "We have been silent witnesses of evil deeds; we have been drenched by many storms; we have learnt the arts of equivocation and pretence; experience has made us suspicious of others and kept us from being truthful and open; intolerable conflicts have worn us down and even made us cynical. Are we still of any use? What we shall need is not geniuses, or cynics, or misanthropes, or clever tacticians, but plain, honest, and straightforward men. Will our inward power of resistance be strong enough, and our honesty with ourselves remorseless enough, for us to find our way back to simplicity and straightforwardness?" -Letters and Papers from Prison

As you reflect on the past and remember the devastating events from the Holocaust, take time to search within yourself. Let us strive to be honest about what things we need to change to ensure that we are not silent bystanders, and therefore, participants in the evil deeds that lead to such devastating crimes against humanity.