Holocaust Remembrance Day
Six days...we have been on this journey for six days. The number six has been looming large over these last 24 hours. As we now really start to get comfortable with each other...like you would be with a brother, or sister...the relentless volume of information detailing precisely how six million Jews were murdered has now found its way into our hearts, our thoughts, our emotions....on day six. Peppi...our gift from G_D guide through this life changing experience delivers the information with such passion that every story...every word of every story is a treasure. She knows the content is hard to comprehend at times...but she knows just when to push us. Example....a 10 minute story about a man arriving in Birkenau completely unaware of what was about to happen...this man refuses to drop his package of personal items on the pile with the others
and is beaten to death...in front of the group. Peppi knows we are starting to get numb from the onslaught of horrific stories and refocuses us all with
"HEY...you know what...that man was beaten to death in this exact spot!! DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT I AM TELLING YOU...IN THIS EXACT SPOT!!!" It knocks the wind out of you like a punch in the gut on a bitter cold day. We are not touring a movie set in Hollywood...we are here...it happened RIGHT HERE! Amazing woman...changing the way we all see the world.
To that point...on our exit from Birkenau today...as free jews forever...i decided to take one last photo. The photo would be of our Cincinnati sign that we used during "The March" today propped against a gear sitting next to the railroad track that famously ran into the camp. I placed the sign...stepped back....and a gust of wind sent the sign down directly into a puddle of wet, cold mud. The group saw what happened and reacted like I had dropped a sacred item...very upset that our sign that we carried with such pride was now face down in sludge. I walked over...picked up the sign...and said the first thing that came to my mind..."you know, this is not the worst thing that has ever happened on this spot...on this ground". Daniel Seibert looks over at me and says "that is such a Rick thing to say." We all realized in that moment that we know each other now as you would know a family member...and the bond we have developed here is strong and everlasting. It's only been six days...Daniel, Isabella or Emma...it doesn't really matter...any one of them now knows what a "Rick thing" is now...what a gift!