Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day.


The other day at the store, I saw an elderly man wearing a World War II veteran cap. I looked him in the eye and thanked him for his service. “You’re welcome,” he said, a pleased smile lighting up his face. Bruce and I commented on the fact that there aren’t very many veterans left from World War II, especially ones who are able to take themselves to the store.


I’ve always felt like World War II was so long ago, in the dim, distant past, as my aunt used to say. And, don’t get me started on the Civil and Revolutionary Wars, let alone the 1600s! But time is skewing those impressions. Or maybe, it is righting them.


Recently, I realized that it was only eleven years between the time my mother died, in 1973, and when I started nursing school. Only eleven years? How can that be? So much of my growing up occurred during those years. On the other hand, what seems like it may have been eleven years ago, was 1990, which, of course, has been (gasp) thirty-three years. No way!


Then, this thought struck me. Twenty years before I was born, we were in the middle of World War II and the Holocaust.

Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest of the death camps, was liberated on January 27, 1945, which is why this date was chosen for the International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Other than the celebration of this liberation, it’s not a day in which we remember a victory. It’s not a remembrance day where we are delighting in the birth of someone important. No, it is the remembrance of an evil, horrific, planned execution of a whole ethnic group of innocent people. And this was only twenty years before I was born.


Last week my husband and I watched a documentary titled Nicky’s Family. It is the story of one man who made a difference and the families he helped. A young business man, Nicholas Winton, was made aware of the desperate situation of Jews in Czechoslovakia, and he single-handedly succeeded in saving 669 children by finding them “temporary” homes in England and other places. It is the powerful account of the difference one man can make.

Here is a link to information about this documentary.


“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” George Santayana


I would encourage you to spend some time this week remembering the lives lost. Consider how you might make a difference in your own community with the challenges we face. Both the man in the grocery store and Mr. Winton answered the call facing them. How about us?


If you have stories of people who served in World War II, survivors of the Holocaust, or other good documentaries or books on this topic, feel free to share them below in the comments.



  • Several years ago, I read the biography, Truman, by David McCullough. I knew very little about President Truman before that, so the book was an eye-opening experience. After all, that time period is the back story to my life, the era of my parents’ childhoods. To be honest, there was a lot going on in the world during that time, and Truman ended up involved in most of it in one way or another.


The fact that a farmer from Missouri could end up in the White House, almost by accident, was incredible. Yet, he did. And he took responsibility and made tough decisions. Then, when he was done, he went home and walked to “work” at his Presidential library every day. The first presidential library.


So after reading the book, I realized that nearly every time we drove to South Dakota from North Carolina, we went right past Independence, Missouri, and the signs that point the way to his home and his presidential library. It became my goal, my dream, to visit his library. I’d never been to a presidential library, and this seemed like a perfect place to start.


But, it wasn’t that simple. Our trips back and forth were often made with as much speed as we could manage. After all, when it takes 27 hours to make the trip, you don’t really have time for sight-seeing. But every time we passed the signs I would say, “One day!”


About the time we got serious about visiting, they closed for renovations. Then the pandemic happened. But this past Thanksgiving week, “someday” became “this day” and we stopped in Independence and spent several wonderful hours exploring the museum/library. There was so much history there, a lot of it sobering, as it dealt with several wars.


I came away, thankful once again for the man that was Harry Truman and the gifts God gave him. Someday, I would love to go back. But, there are other presidential libraries!


A couple of weeks ago I finished reading Mornings on Horseback, also by David McCullough. It’s not a biography, but rather the chronicling of a family, the Roosevelt family. It starts with President Theodore Roosevelt’s grandparents and parents, and then settles into a close-up-and-personal look at the family in which Teddy Roosevelt grew up. It follows them through to the point where Teddy is about to marry his second wife, then quickly ties up the loose ends, letting you know how each of his siblings’ lives went after that.


It was an incredibly detailed look at the life of a privileged family in the last half of the 19th century and into the 20th.


The thing that most caught my attention, though, was a note from the author explaining how he decided to write the book. When he was researching for his books on the Brooklyn Bridge and the Panama Canal, (both on my must-read list) he discovered this massive collection of letters from the Roosevelt family, housed at Harvard. Every Roosevelt was a prolific letter writer. The author recognized in them a treasure trove of first person accounts of this time period in history. How could he not write the story? And wow, I’m super glad he did!


Only now I want to go to Harvard to see those letters.


Please comment below if you have visited any of the presidential libraries or have ever been inspired to visit a historic site because you read about it in a book.


If you are interested in visiting a Presidential Library, you can find a list of them at this site:


Here is a link to information about the Theodore Roosevelt Collection: