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#RepairTheWorldWednesday with Leo Necheles and Holocaust Remembrance Day

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Never forget: Holocaust Remembrance Day needs to be a bigger deal

Leo Necheles

Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Today is a day to look back and make sure this world never forgets the horrors that took place in Nazi Germany. Today is a day in which the United Nations urges humanity to honor the 6 million Jewish victims of the Holocaust and educate each other so such a tragedy may never happen again. Yet, on this day, no one seems to remember.

As I have scrolled through social media, our modern-day platform for activism and awareness, it’s been scary to see the scarce amount of posts regarding Holocaust Remembrance Day. Even scarier—I haven’t seen a single post from a non-Jewish person. 

I immediately went to text my non-Jewish friends, asking if they happened to know what day today was. To my dismay, I received answers such as “Wednesday,” or “the 27th,” with an abundance of confusion. Even my Jewish friends seemed clueless about the importance of today. We wonder why so many people are becoming unaware of our horrific past, yet the answer sits right in front of us. We aren’t providing them with enough opportunity to become aware.

America has so many other relevant holidays that successfully highlight and force us to remember our pasts, both festive and reflective of past tragedies. Even Groundhog Day appears to be more recognized than Holocaust Remembrance Day. Why is it that a day acknowledging one of this world’s most poignant events is less recognized than a day where an animal mindlessly pokes its head outside to give us false hope about the weather? Why is it that just three weeks after neo-Nazi flags were flown in our nation’s Capitol, we aren’t seeing our very own nation come together and pledge to “never forget”? Why is it that just three weeks after blatant anti-semitism was explicitly on display in one of our nation’s most sacred buildings, there has yet to be an outroar from society at-large?

The answers to these questions lay in the foundations of our culture and our education system. Not once in school today has a teacher mentioned the Holocaust. Not once have I received an email from anyone today acknowledging this global holiday and shout for remembrance. Not once have I had a friend even understand the significance of today without a friendly reminder.

Even in Illinois, where Holocaust education is required in public schools, it seems to lack on the one day where it should be the most prevalent. What’s the point of requiring Holocaust education if it’s not even present on a day the United Nations urgers it to be discussed?

Holocaust Remembrance Day needs to be a pillar of our nation, a holiday that every citizen grows up knowing and discussing. If we hope to fight hate, we must first show where hate has existed in our past. There is no reason that our lives shouldn’t be flooded with discussions about the Holocaust on this monumental day. These conversations can start on social media, but must move past the simple urges from our phones. We must move past the easy repost from social media and take further steps by discussing the Holocaust with our peers. Today must be a reminder, waking people up from their ignorance of anti-semitism in the past and present. 

We tell people to never forget, yet it appears that humanity is in fact forgetting. As the last of the Holocaust survivors are sadly dying out, remembering is becoming more important than ever. In a poll of 102 countries and territories done by the Anti-Defamation League, it was discovered that 35% of people in the polls had never heard of the Holocaust. We must urge not only ourselves to remember, but also the rest of society. Today must be a day where the entire world can come together—a day where we can honor those we lost, remember the horrors people faced, and envision a future where history is not repeated. Make sure you know what today is, and make sure others know what today is. This time, let’s truly never forget.