Norfolk, Virginia - The Heritage Committee aboard the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) hosted a Holocaust Days of Remembrance event April 26 to memorialize the six million Jewish people and the millions of non-Jewish victims murdered in the Holocaust.
The service included a video feature presented by guest speaker Marty Mandelberg, a United Jewish Federation of Tidewater representative, depicting testimony by Dana Cohen, a survivor of the Holocaust, and archived footage of the Holocaust and World War II.
"This was actually the second time that I had met her," said Religious Program Specialist 2nd Class Patrick Brutsche about Cohen, "the first time being three or four years ago at my previous command. It was still amazing the second time and I learned something new.
"I never knew she had a family afterward. It's admirable that she experienced so many horrible things at such a young age and was able to lead a relatively normal life afterward."
Cohen's past didn't define her future, and she uses her journey to bring attention to a time when life wasn't easy, but she rose to the challenge and now shares her story with military and civilian audiences.
"Our survivors can teach us a great deal," said Mandelberg. "These stories all share a common bond. They depict a jolt from normalcy, a sudden upheaval from everyday life. Our survivors are brave enough to share their stories so it will not be forgotten and so that future generations may not repeat the past."
The ceremony held aboard George Washington gave Sailors a chance to reflect on and learn from past events.
"Remembering the Holocaust is something that we have a moral responsibility to do," said Cmdr. Philip Bagrow, a chaplain aboard George Washington, "to educate our shipmates of every age and rank so that they are aware of events like this and that they never occur again."
Capt. Timothy Kuehhas, George Washington's commanding officer, presented plaques of appreciation to guest speakers Mandelberg and Cohen.
This week of remembrance is set aside to honor and remember the victims of the Holocaust and their liberators, so the nation never forgets the great atrocities committed, what mankind is capable of, and to remember the "strength of the human spirit."
To view the video played during the ceremony, please visit www.whatwecarry.org . To learn more about the Holocaust and contemporary challenges in the Jewish community please visit the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater website www.jewishva.org .