November 3rd, 2006

Candle

A Decision For My 40th Birthday

I've been thinking about this for a long time, and I decided I was going to go ahead and research it out and get it framed in my mind. I've made a decision about something I want to do for myself in a few years. Four years is not really as long as it seems when you're thinking big. It may sound crazy to some, but I've never been overly concerned with how some of the things I come up with get perceived.

Here's the thing. In the winter of 2010, I will be turning 40 years old. It's a big deal for me as I never thought I would live past 30 anyway, so I want to do something very meaningful that will be a testament to the value of one's life and how lucky we all are in most respects for what we have and take for granted. I want to go to Oświęcim, Poland and experience visiting Auschwitz-Birkenau. I want to take part in a death march all the way through the entirety of the camp and experience what those people had to go through in those horrific days.

I want to learn Kaddish and recite it at the death wall of Block 11 in honor of the people who believed until the end that G-d would save them, and place a pebble from my own backyard at the base of the wall while I cry until I've run dry and cannot any longer.

I've wanted to go to Auschwitz since I was in the 8th grade and learned about it in World History class, going to the public library and reading everything I could get my hands on for weeks at a time trying to understand the how and why such a thing was even possible. I've written about it in harsh detail, I have a felt understanding of it from a literary standpoint and I've read a great body of work on the Holocaust, but I really don't think you can understand the gravity of it until you're standing there in it.

I want to mourn all of those who were lost, including MY people. This is a deep, urgent need I have had for many years to do this and I want to use the occasion of my 40th birthday to finally do it.

Four years and I'm going. I welcome any of you who would like to go on this journey with me, I would be honored by your company and it would bond us in ways that would otherwise be impossible.

Rat Bastard Friday



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Why We Fight

In keeping with my feelings on my next-to-last post about the holocaust and going to Auschwitz, I wanted to make this post. It is something I think will illuminate another experience of humanity juxtaposed with inhumanity and add gravity to all of that.

HBO had a running series a while back called Band Of Brothers. It was a really good show and gave a good nod to what servicemembers and veterans experience(d). There was an episode called "Why We Fight" that absolutely shook me in a way that I'll never get over.

Band Of Brothers: Episode #9 - 'Why We Fight'

In the ninth episode, Easy Company finally enters Germany in April 1945, finding very little resistance as they proceed. There they are impressed by the industriousness of the defeated locals and gain respect for their humanity. But the G.I.s are then confronted with the horror of an abandoned Nazi concentration camp in the woods, which the locals claim not to have known anything about. Here the story of Easy Company is connected with the broader narrative of the war—the ideology of the Third Reich and Hitler’s plan to exterminate the Jews.