I had the privilege of vacationing recently in Poland. It is a beautiful country and I highly recommend a visit - the weather was fantastic (much like ours on the East coast in the Autumn) and the people, food, and historical sites incredible (reconstructed with incredible detail in those areas decimated during WWII). As to the War, I had the privilege of visiting Auschwitz II - Birkenau. I say privilege because it is not often that we can visit locations that speak to such sensitive subjects as a Death Camp. The museum grounds are well visited, but if you go you will find that the pervasive element among the visitors is Respect - for each other and the grounds, for those who perished, and those who survived. The museum is challenging on many levels, but on exhibit ahead of the entrance was an art installation that helped frame what was to come. The installation presented images of survivors along with short narratives of key memories each survivor recalled. Each memory included an element that gave them strength, courage, and faith that they credit with their survival. Despite all that we know about this and other camps, it is those stories that I find compelling - that love and faith prevailed for those individuals during the horror of the camps and thereafter (each person's story included current day details such as how many children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren they had). I will never forget what I saw (the horror is not to be diminished), but I will also never forget that within each of us is the power to care for each other, to prevail in dire circumstances, and to thrive thereafter....and most importantly, to Love.
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