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At 20 years old, Sergeant Leon Bass was among the first US soldiers to witness and liberate the Buchenwald Concentration Camp in Germany. In Yad Vashem’s short film, “Liberators and Survivors: The First Moments,” Bass recalled: “I can never forget that day, because when I walked through the gate I saw… human beings that had been beaten, they’d been starved, they’d been tortured. They had been denied everything.”
As a black man, Leon faced racism throughout his life. The impact of what he saw at Buchenwald was so profound that he went on to become a teacher and speaker on racism and the Holocaust, sharing his unique perspective as a witness to various forms of oppression. In 1996, he was awarded the Pearlman Award for Humanitarian Advancement from Jewish Women International.
Leon passed away in 2015 at the age of 90. @yadvashemusa honors his memory and legacy as a hero and activist for the Jewish people and civil rights for all peoples.
Wow!!! The old, “things could turn on a dime” is a true statement today. While so many in America are barreling down the petty grievance highway, or complaining their latte has too much foam, Ukraine is under attach. Now you can have the conversation of whether or not this is important to you, and we can all play armchair quarterback on what the best solution is. Everyone will have their own opinion, and that’s okay, but for this article alone, the topic is “Grateful”. Us, us as people, us as a nation, a country of liberties and freedoms, and grateful we had men and women die to give us this wonderful nation. Grateful we live in this nation. We have so many luxuries that we take for granted. You do not have to be financially rich, in order to have those luxuries, they are afforded to us all.
The people in Ukraine are not concerned with pronouns, names on schools, who uses what bathrooms or what political party sign is on their neighbors lawn. They have rockets, and bombs going off in their backyard. Literally!, their backyard. They are forced into subways to shelter in place. Or told to shelter in their homes. They are told to pick up arms and defend their country. Or throw a Molotov cocktail out the window. Can you imagine how potentially unsafe making and throwing a petrol bomb would be. They are trying to keep a neonatal unit open because power is sporadic. They are sending their children to schools with post it notes pinned to their jacket with the child’s blood type. So many horrors to list and none we ourselves would want to imagine or experience.
This is not to say that day to day issues, or goals and aspirations should be ignored or considered unimportant. Of course they are important, they are the priorities of us as Americans. We are Americans living the American Dream, people risk their lives to live the American Dream. We are free to dream, to live, love ,laugh, climb the ladder of success and have the chance to be what we want. Worship our God and say what we want. We can disagree and argue, because we have the freedom, the luxury, to do these things.
But make no mistake, Things can certainly turn on a dime. As John Bradford said, “but for the grace of God, there go I. “ In a split second, a keystroke and the press of button, a cyber incident could shut off our lights, interrupt our water supply, stop air travel, food supplies. Some say, perhaps worse.
Today, perhaps we should look at our spouse, our children our modest home our neighbors unkempt lawn and be grateful we have those luxuries. The luxury to argue with our neighbor, family, friends or have civil discourse, or just the ability to put our head on a pillow and go to sleep with the sense that the landscape that was there at the time we turned the tv off and laid down for that night’s sleep, that same scenery will be the same one we wake up to. We say our prayers for just that.
So today, when the sun comes up and the light shines on the people you love, you get dressed and face the day, stop for a moment to be grateful. God has blessed us with this beautiful nation. We are not perfect, but we strive to be better everyday. Kiss your kids, your spouse, pat your pet on the head and be grateful you live in the greatest country in the world. Not everyone has that luxury.
Liberty, Freedom and the pursuit of happiness is a luxury we sometimes take for granted.
God bless this nation, and keep her safe. God bless and protect all nations.