My husband’s grandmother recently gave him taped recordings of his grandfather speaking about the Holocaust, of which they are both survivors. She is living still, whereas he walked on 5 years ago at the age of 90.
It is searing to hear him recount riding three weeks in the cattle cars, and being dropped at a Siberian work camp in the middle of winter, at the age of 19. Though, I think it is just as heartbreaking to listen to him recount his family and neighborhood life before everything became so horrible. Hearing the smile in his voice as he recollects bonfire parties to gather potatoes, I have the sense that he lived at least four separate lives. Before the war, during, after, and in America.
Gany (his wife) and I were talking a few months back, and she was saying how she was sitting outside for lunch with a friend, and thought about how grateful she always felt to be in America, and know that no one would ask her for papers or what she was doing or where she was going or coming from. Then she said, “at least that’s how it always was.”
This nation is full of innocents, among whom I include those who think themselves aligned with this current administration. What we enjoy as normal is so incredibly precious, and tenuous, and a testament to the actual ties that bind us together. Don’t most of us just want our families to be happy, and healthy, and safe?
To strengthen our common hopes, that our children and elders will be safe and feel certain in the promise of a perfectable Union, we need to strive mightily toward that possibility.
This is not a joke or a game. It is a time of reckoning, and we must be awake to that which we truly hold dear. An American life of great privilege, where the persecuted can find haven among people who truly believe it worthwhile to try our very best to save this land of peace and plenty.
Focus on the basics: All created Equal. We the People.