Yesterday we had the privilege of listening to a very powerful and moving guest speaker. Nesse Godin is an 88-year-old Lithuanian-American Holocaust survivor who dedicated her life to spreading a message of love while educating about the repercussions of hateful intent.
To be able to listen to someone like Nesse tell her story is an unbelievable privilege that I will carry with me as I move through life. In Oregon, and my hometown of Roseburg especially, we have something called “Living History Day” where veterans come and tell us their stories. One man, Frank Moore, is a WWII veteran who continues to tour and tell his story. One story he told related to what Mrs. Godin was telling us. Frank told us about the Hitler Youth, who were between 13-17 years old, and they were trying to engage in combat with Frank’s troop. Frank, emotional as he recalls this, talks about how devastating it was to think that that was somebody’s child, someone’s brother, cousin, or nephew. Just as Nesse and the women she was with, it makes you step back and wonder — how could people do this to other human beings? Someone’s mother, sister, or daughter? Blind hate and ignorance never does anything but inspire fear that takes us backwards. We progress as a nation when we unite and we show each other love. We develop as people when we learn tolerance of other people’s beliefs, regardless if we agree. To be able to be a diverse people is one of the greatest gifts we are given, and it’s important that we nurture that gift with love and tolerance.
Dystini Schuster, Oregon