Today is Yom Hashoah, Israel's official Holocaust Remembrance Day. January 27th was International Holocaust Remembrance Day, on the day marking the liberation of Auschwitz. Yom Hashoah, by contrast is held every year 8 days before Yom Ha'atzmaut (Israel Independence Day), the most perfect irony.
Check out here and here for additional information.
Every year, Houston holds a special ceremony to commemorate.
Every year since I was little, I've gone with my mom (and/or Dad). I'm no stranger to the Holocaust; while my immediate family wasn't directly involved, that was only because my grandfather had the good sense to flee with my grandmother and their infant daughter away from the advancing German soldiers and into the Soviet interior - my grandmother's family, living on the unfortunate front lines of the German invasion into the Soviet Union. So, 72 members of my grandmother's family was killed, who knows how. And my grandfather was drafted into the Soviet Red Army and spent his military time on the front lines, leaving my grandmother behind hiding in forests, among other places. My father's family in Moscow evacuated also into the interior but was mostly spared most of the horrors. So - I grew up with the Holocaust and its aftereffects front and center in my life, but not everyone else has.
These commemorations are important for all the people to whom it's not so obvious: for those who believe that the same thing couldn't happen here in America (it could), or for those who believe that such genocide doesn't happen anymore (it does - check out Africa), or for those who just don't know the facts. Holocaust education goes beyond what actually occurred during the Holocaust and really digs deep into why and how did it happen. Did you know that America had a eugenics program which Germany admired (and Sweden's program lasted until 1975)? And what about all of the ordinary citizens of the German-occupied countries who basically went along with all of the horror surrounding them?
Perhaps it's MTV who says it best. The Holocaust happened to people like us.