I was struck by Monday’s front-page story about a Veterans Day ceremony at the State House that united Holocaust survivor Stephan Ross with the family of the American soldier who had embraced Ross upon his liberation from Dachau in April 1945 (“Enduring gratitude for a soldier’s compassion,” Nov. 12). It reminded me of the op-ed piece that Ross, the founder of the New England Holocaust Memorial, wrote on April 19, 2001 — Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Ross wrote in disturbing detail of the horrors he experienced in the Nazi death camps, but he ended on a moving and uplifting note, describing the moment the soldier hugged him and handed him a handkerchief to dry his tears — a handkerchief that he discovered was a small American flag.
Every year when my students study the play “The Diary of Anne Frank,” I read them parts of this essay to emphasize not only the nightmare the Nazis perpetrated on the Jewish people but also the heroism of my parents’ generation, for in the penultimate paragraph of his 2001 piece, Ross stresses, “It is important for young people to realize the impact their grandparents made during World War II. These brave soldiers crushed the most evil empire the world has ever known and witnessed the horrifying atrocities done in the camps.”
We should all remember Ross’s message: “The people of this world must build, without reservation, a solid foundation for ethnic and religious tolerance. God bless our America, the greatest land of all.”