Lest We Forget . . .

I was sick to my stomach.  I had trouble breathing .   I had to stop before I had another cardiac arrest.  Hearing of the harsh brutality inflicted upon the Jews made me vomit when I was ten.    Studying the holocaust nearing a lifetime of ninety years had the question continuing,   why one man with such an evil idea of hatred started a war of blood and extermination only with the power of thought.

And a world of people praying for peace, desired peace and yearning  brotherhood  could not bring power to their idea.  Yet the power of one man’s thought to destroy cannot be overcome by worlds of
love for brotherhood?  Not one man nor group of theologians, officials, countries, institutions, not one religion to stop this evil course to destroy civilization?

We must question our belief systems.  We must look at what indeed gives impetus to our lives so that when we are against the wall and cannot move an inch, we buckle.  Why our judgment is so faulty as to allow power and greed to destroy and maim not only those who are living, but by trauma, Loves, trauma, where the psychological damage to our genetic heritage is irreversible.

It is passed through the genes and what we have are those of us whose memory is so deeply etched that living again will be those who will demand an eye for an eye.  No matter how far down the line we go.  No matter how far down.

It is through education that we reach the heart of man.  We must teach the children and be the example we wish to teach.  Only when we exhibit and are a living testament to love and tender mercies,  can we reach the hearts that waver.  The warm hand of the father on the brow  of the child, and the beating  heart in the breast of the mother in time with the child, will teach where words do not reach.

It must be done before exiting the front door to kindergarten.  Hold their hands while you can. Yet.  Still.

A sorrow hushed. ..the holocaust. . 

 My ears cleaved to the door frame
of the dining room. Her whisper was hoarse,
were there many?
Lots, he said, lots, as he held the letter
that told him what they saw.
They pushed for space, women and children
and their men. They wanted to see. 
My people saw he said.

Their words burned my brain
as I strained to listen, afraid I wouldn’t
catch a sorrow hushed.  It didn’t last long
he said, because they fell.  Matko Bosko she said.

Remember our history he said.   
As if that could explain what I heard.
And I knew the god they called
upon to save them from whatever they feared.
He whispered again, somehow trying to
make this horrid time an all right matter.
My people saw them, he kept saying.

And I loved those parents who made things
seem right yet what my heart knew was evil
and my head fought them and argued
till I would vomit.  We would go
into holy week and pray just as
my cousins across the waters who saw
what was done went back to their tables
and supped as if nothing had happened.

These were friends and relatives
whose prayers were different and
they said that made them different than us.
And the us that I was born into made me
ashamed and sick to my stomach and kneeled
in front of the toilet and emptied my shame
washed with the tears of I am so sorry
and threw up all of my ten years

and so went my trust.    

(How could it happen, how?  It is such a gentle culture,  so soft and warm.  Weronika, moya serce, Weronika,  ja cie  kocham. . . Veronica, my heart, Veronica, I you love. . .a girl, at ten and she weeps still.  The Polish culture is love embraced and so vivid was Winter Journey and Mosaic by Diane Armstrong that they will companion me and forever haunt. . )

4 Responses to Lest We Forget . . .

  1. Catherine Copp January 27, 2020 at 5:58 am #

    Veronica,
    Thank you for this post and the poem of memory. Though challenging to read and consider, we must continue to hold this time of cruelty and violence in our thoughts.

    For me, I wonder what the followers of that evil man lacked in their lives, their heads, their hearts, and their spirits that allowed them to march with him. We must not only teach our children this history but hold them close and love them with every fiber of our being.

    As one of the children you have loved, I send you my love. Catherine

    • Veronica Hallissey January 27, 2020 at 3:31 pm #

      Catherine, What has always been a wonder to me is the word evil. To spell it backward is live. And somehow it tells me that to eradicate evil we must live to learn good, its opposite. The word seems to cry for an embrace. You are a child of my heart I continue to love!

  2. Lois January 27, 2020 at 10:44 am #

    I am Catholic and the rise in anti- Semitism in our country and throughout the world has me heartsick. I have been a Holocaust reader my whole life since my teens. I always knew we must remember and honor those who suffered. We must stand behind our Jewish brothers and sisters and address the ugliness of of anti Semitism wherever and whenever we encounter it!

    • Veronica Hallissey January 27, 2020 at 3:24 pm #

      Lois, It seems attack is what some do when their security is threatened. And someone’s difference is reason enough for the most insecure. How to puncture armor to allow love to enter is a hard task. Bless because I have no magic. Thank you for commenting.

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