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Recognizing Holocaust Commemoration Ceremony

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Location: Washington, DC


Recognizing Holocaust Commemoration Ceremony -- (Extensions of Remarks - April 22, 2004)

SPEECH OF

HON. JOHN B. LARSON

OF CONNECTICUT

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

THURSDAY, APRIL 22, 2004

Mr. LARSON of Connecticut. Mr. Speaker, I rise to honor the millions of Jews who perished in the Holocaust and extend my support to today's annual Days of Remembrance ceremony at the U.S. Capitol.

The Days of Remembrance ceremony, along with the creation of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, were established by Congress to permanently honor these victims. The lasting legacy of the museum and today's annual ceremony is not only to remember those who perished, but also to educate the world about human rights.

The 2004 Days of Remembrance asks us to pay tribute to the memory of the Jews of Hungary, who were deported 60 years ago in the final stages of World War II, and to honor those courageous individuals as well as the few organizations and countries who attempted to rescue them.

When I served in the Connecticut Senate as Senate President Pro Tempore, I had the great honor of presiding over the Days of Remembrance for 8 years. These ceremonies were incredibly moving. They inspired all in attendance to reflect on how such tremendous horror could happen in a civilized world. Every memorial candle lit by survivors and their family members was a testament that the eternal flame of life may flicker and dim, but it can never be extinguished.

One family in particular that understands this painful moment in history all too well is that of my colleague from Connecticut Senator JOE LIEBERMAN. Senator LIEBERMAN's wife Hadassah, is the daughter of Auschwitz death camp survivors. Although her father, Rabbi Samuel Freilich, has died, he bravely confronted his memories of Auschwitz by writing the book, The Coldest Winter.

Hadassah Lieberman was part of the U.S. delegation who attended the ceremony to mark the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. I can't possibly begin to know what that trip must have meant to her. Yet, I do know that her courage to travel to this place of horrible evil, and the courage of every survivor and their families, is truly remarkable.

This year's Days of Remembrance theme is "For Justice and Humanity." Sadly, thousands around the world have not found justice from the crimes against humanity that they have endured.

A United Nations Commission on Human Rights statement issued yesterday indicates that human rights violations around the world are far from eliminated. The Commission agreed to assist countries that have recently experienced violence or are still combating insurgencies, such as Afghanistan, Nepal, Timor-Leste, Cambodia, Haiti, Burundi, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Chad, Liberia, Somalia and Sierra Leone.

Today's ceremony is a critical reminder that the fight against repression and violence is a difficult battle. Yet, it also reminds us that while the capacity to hate does exist in this world, an equally potent capacity for hope, for courage and for justice also exists.

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