JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. –
Joint Base Charleston held events in honor of Holocaust Remembrance Week from April 29 to May 3, 2019.
During the week, the special observance committee helped put together events such as a 5k race, Airmen reading the names 5,000 lives that were lost in the Holocaust and a speaking event where a Holocaust survivor and a College of Charleston professor spoke to Airmen to help teach and remind people of the events that occurred and to ensure they aren’t repeated.
“There’s still a lot of educational work to do, and this is part of it,” said Theodore Rosengarten, College of Charleston Zucker and Goldberg Chair of Holocaust Studies.
Joe Engel, Holocaust survivor, went through some of the toughest times imaginable going to two separate concentration camps, Birkenau and Auschwitz, before he eventually escaped by jumping off a train. He then joined a covert resistance group to fight against the Nazis.
Now he tells his story to help make sure such atrocities never happen again.
“I lived through it... luckily,” said Engel. “I’m glad I escaped, I’m glad I survived, I’m glad I’m here to talk to the younger generation so this doesn’t happen again. I hope my message gets out so we can all live together and love each other.
“I want to thank the United States Armed Forces,” said Engel. “Without them, I would not be alive.”
Scheduling and planning the week of remembrance was in the hands of the base’s special observances committee, where Senior Airman Ion Radu, 437th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment journeyman, took a personal responsibility for the week’s events.
“I grew up in Romania and they were impacted by the Holocaust,” said Radu. “Just hearing my grandparents’ stories from when they were growing up at that time, I took a big interest in it and when I heard we were doing the remembrance I wanted to be a part of it.”
Growing up in Romania and then living in the U.S., Radu sees that sometimes things can be taken for granted and he hopes that events like these help remind people that it hasn’t always been easy for some.
“To me, knowing how it is to live in another country, it’s easy to kind of forget how bad it was at certain points in history when you live in a place as nice as America,” said Radu. “So these types of events are to help remind people and help prevent those things from ever happening again.”