The day was overcast and the sky full of clouds. The smell of rain was in the air. Still, the people came.of all ages  gathered together at the Cannery Kitchen for Brenham’s 2015 March of Remembrance ceremony and prayer walk . By proclamation of the Commissioners’ Court of Washington County, this day, April 18, 2015 was set aside to honor and remember Holocaust victims and survivors; and to declare this will never happen again.

Pastor John Paul Cruz of Cornerstone Christian Center warmly welcomed the crowd. Reverend Randy Wells with St. John’s African-Methodist Episcopal Church opened with prayer.

Brenham native and World War II veteran, Mr. James (Jim) Rothermel shared his experiences as a part of the 14th United States Naval Construction Battalion deployed to Guadalcanal. Though the memories he shared were quite heavy at times, Mr. Rothermel expertly wove humorous moments into his story that had the crowd erupting in laughter.  Mr. Rothermel also talked about how he chaired the committee responsible for building the Washington County Veterans Memorial at Firemen’s Park.

Mr. Sam Kelner, Associate Area Director for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) told the story of his grandfather Solomon Lederman, a Holocaust survivor, who worked in an orphanage as an assistant to Janusz Korczak. He told the heart wrenching story of how Mr. Korczak, a Polish-Jewish educator, children’s author and pediatrician, willingly marched to his death alongside the children he had grown to love.  Choking back tears, Mr. Kelner shared how the Holocaust and his grandfather’s experiences had impacted his entire family. Mr. Kelner concluded with an overview of his work with AIPAC, what is current events with Iran and how each of us must be a voice against oppression and anti-semitism.

Mr. Wayne Stolz, a native of Washington County, spoke on behalf of the German people. In researching his lineage, Mr. Stolz discovered the ancestral names of both his mother and father among those of recorded Nazi perpetrators. His heartfelt message was one of repentance, healing and how we can not be silent.  There was not a dry eye in the room as Mr. Kelner and Mr. Stolz embraced, symbolic  of forgiveness, restoration and solidarity.

As the group assembled to begin the prayer walk through the city each person was given a stone to carry in memory of a Holocaust victim. Flags were flown and the shofar was blown in honor of the victims, survivors, rescuers and families affected by the Holocaust. Prayers of blessing were poured out for the Jewish people, the nation of Israel, service men and women, and our local, state and national government.

At the conclusion of the prayer walk everyone returned to the Cannery Kitchen for Blue Bell ice cream and to hear closing remarks from Hungarian Consul General Phillip Aronoff. Mr. Aronoff spoke of his duties as Consul General and how anti-semitism is on the rise in Hungary. I am reminded of the quote “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”  This day we stood up and declared “never again”. Let us all be men and women of our word.

Kim Fox

March of Remembrance Brenham liaison

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