Today my husband had the privilege to do the invocation and benediction at the 2008 Days of Remembrance ceremony here on our post. I initially went to show my support for him, but after just a few moments of sitting there I realized it would become so much more to me. It was set aside as a time to remember those who faced the evil of the Holocaust, as well as to think about the terrorism that takes place in our world today.
The guest speaker was Mr. Leo Hymas. He was drafted at 18 years old and would soon experience things that haunted him for years. In 1997 he began to tell his story to students and probably anyone who would listen. It took all of me to stay composed as he talked about his own personal experience and the things he encountered when they stumbled upon one of the concentration camps with 18,000 prisoners.
He talked a lot about what it meant to him to live through the war and watch his friends die, to see starving children, and to find thousands of bodies and realize the extreme cruelty and torment they had experienced. He talked about lessons we can learn from the Holocaust and showed genuine appreciation for the many soldiers in the room who volunteered to defend our country.
Imagine all this taking place while you're sitting among soldiers in uniform! It was almost more than I could take when we all stood and the soldiers sang the I Corps Song and The Army Song. I kept telling myself, "Do NOT cry, do NOT cry here with all these soldiers around you!" Luckily, I made it through, but my heart was filled with emotion as I listened to the horrible stories, observed the soldiers I sat among, and felt such pride for the great men and women of our country who are willing to defend it.