Tag Archives: remember

Life in a Jar

Heroes do extraordinary things. What I did was not an extraordinary thing. It was normal.

-Irena Sendler

For an aged woman of 91 at the time of her death, Irena Sendler had seen firsthand more despair, hatred and injustice than most of us can see in a lifetime. A polish woman growing up in Warsaw and the surrounding areas Irena was submerged in the anti-semitic culture of Europe during the Holocaust. Her life was normal from the outside looking in, and she seemed to be the average young polish woman who just wanted to pursue a nursing career so she could follow in her father’s footsteps by being part of the medical field… she was anything but that.

Her father not only passed along his love for medicine but also a deeply rooted belief that all person’s have dignity and that if you see a person drowning, “must try to rescue them, even if you cannot swim.” Irena took that wisdom to heart and as the Holocaust raged more and more inhuman each day she decided she would no longer stand against justice by doing nothing.

Irena’s fight for the Jewish people started in 1939 when she and her tiny army of fighters created fake documents for many Jews living in Poland. Her fight did not end there though, by the end of 1942 Irena had successfully smuggled 2,500 children out of the Warsaw ghetto either by traveling through the sewer systems or hiding the very young ones in her medical bag.

The life of this polish woman is not just a story about doing what is right or even about finding justice for others, it is a story that drips with a desire to see all of humanity live with dignity. She did not see the Jewish people as a lesser race, she did not find them distasteful or deserving of death- she saw people, in need of what she could offer.

Irena speaks about her experiences during World War II as if she were not a hero, many quotes you find from her talk about how she is just the opposite. A person who did not do something extraordinary, but one who did something that should be very ordinary.

How are we, as ordinary people, doing ordinary things… make an extraordinary difference? Irena saved the lives of thousand of children, careful to write down their names, their parents names and where they were going and then protected that information, she buried her jars of thin tissue paper under apple trees. This allows to look back on to see the impact… the lives of thousands and thousands of people are now changed forever… because someone did something ordinary.

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Life in a Jar

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The Warsaw Uprising

On any given day you can look back into the scope of human history and find the events that marked that particular date and what made them significant enough to impact the fabric of our time.

January 18th, 1943- a small group of Jewish men

decided to react against hatred.


The Warsaw ghetto was the largest in all of Poland. It housed well over 400,000 Jews in conditions that were deplorable. Starvation, typhoid fever and random killing sprees by the Nazi’s were just a few of the hazards to residing in Warsaw’s ghetto. Throughout the year of 1942 thousands upon thousands were deported to Treblinka, a large extermination camp. Within the year… over 300,000 were exported by the masses to their deaths.

But there was a remnant… shipping of Jews from Warsaw had ceased for a time. From the fall of 1942 to the winter of 1943 there was a significant decrease in the deportation of Jews to Treblinka. But the ones that remained lived on a shallow breath, knowing that at any time it could resume.

January 18th, the Nazi troops began organizing… more Jews were to be sent to the death camp. But… within the shallow breathing remnant, there came a realization that led to action. No longer would they be treated as animals, no longer would they be treated as unpersons, there was a realization that they still possessed humanity, despite how they had been dispersed, disregarded and degraded.

On a preplanned signal, a small group of men turned on those who had kept them prisoner. There, in the ghetto they had come to know as home- they started an uprising.

Although in the short scope of things, the uprising at Warsaw did not turn out in the Jews favor- it did start a liberation. There has been movie after movie made about the Warsaw ghetto and the uprising that happened there. The utter darkness that the evil of men had cast throughout Nazi-occupied Poland was not enough to destroy a people who suffered as the target of that evil. The liberation and understanding of their humanity gave rise to a renewed hope that there was light at the end of it all. That one day there wouldn’t be any more destruction and death.

And here we are… almost 70 years later, most of the survivors are gone now…only a few remain.  The Nazi’s who tortured, burned, destroyed and killed this people group have been brought under the strong arm of justice. Why not take just a moment to remember those who died simply because of who they were born as. But…I am not Jewish and logistically most of you are not either. So, why should it matter to us?

The same reasons rape, murder, abuse, hatred, racism and all other forms of violence should matter to us. When we see things like this that mar our history, it doesn’t matter if we are or would have been included in that particular population. It matters because it isn’t a white or black issue, it’s not a male or female issue, it’s not an intelligence and handicap issue…

 

It’s a human issue.

 

“We are the shoes, we are the last witnesses.

We are shoes from grandchildren and grandfathers

from Prague, Paris and Amsterdam,

and because we are only made of fabric and leather

and not of blood and flesh, each one of us avoided the hellfire.”

 

The Holocaust

The Warsaw Ghetto

Movies about the Warsaw Ghetto and Treblinka:

The Pianist

Defiance

Uprising

Jakob the Liar


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L’ Union Fait La Force

The french phrase that speaks out as Haiti’s motto is probably the most appropriate way to sum up their year of devastation, pain, tragedy and loss.

Unity Creates Strength

It’s the year anniversary of the earthquake that shattered this tiny country. And unlike the moments such as 9.11.01, when George W. became president and the occurrence of the Virginia Tech shootings, I don’t remember where I was or what I was doing when I heard about the Haiti crisis. I don’t know if that makes me a horrible human being or not but it’s the truth… I didn’t think much about what was happening. I think part of it may have had to do with there being so many natural disasters within the last few years, that this ‘old hat’ sort of response was the easiest way to take it in. “Another disaster, more aid, another city, country, hometown ect. to rebuild.”

It’s so easy here, in my little world… where I can just try to ignore tragedy.

So, here we are… a year out. Haiti has been hit time and time again this year. First the devastating earthquake, then the onslot of cholera and now the rise in crimes against women that is resulting in a massive hike in pregnancies. But through the pain, sickness and crime– they are rebuilding, little by little… unity has given them strength

You are here in all the rubble, where the broken-hearted grieve.

-Tim Glenn

 


Their response is that of defiance, they refuse to be beaten down, they refuse to stop rebuilding, to stop reclaiming their lives, they refuse to give up. Their strength comes from their unity, how are we helping them find that strength? How are we responding? I don’t remember where I was when I heard, I don’t remember my exact response or how much I really cared to invest at the time… but I remember now. I’ve seen the photo’s, I’ve heard the stories. Now, what I didn’t remember… I can’t forget.

What can we do to remember Haiti throughout this month and this year? Find a way to make a difference, if you lack funds and means… spread awareness… get behind a cause that is doing something and learn how you can make a difference.

 

Photo’s used with permission from WorldHelp

@world_help

#rememberhaiti

WorldHelp on Facebook

Remember Haiti Twibbon

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