The Day My Son Learned to Never Forget


Today I went with my ten year old son’s class on a field trip to the Dallas Holocaust Museum and Center for Education and Tolerance. As we walked in and the docent explained the self guided tour devices we were all given my son stood and stared at the picture above.
I had decided beforehand to let him take the lead and be there right along with him to answer his questions. I thought this would enable him to take it in at his own pace and absorb the information in the way he could best handle it. I honestly wasn’t sure how he would react being that we had talked about the Holocaust in the past but never showed the kids any of the graphic and terrifying images.
Since I first heard that the fifth grade would be going on this field trip I have been thinking about my high school Government class and the three days we spent watching the documentary footage of the death camps of the Nazi’s. Much of the footage was silent and I was so disturbed by what I saw over those days that I was unable to eat or stop thinking about the people whose emaciated dead bodies I saw piled up on carts, pushed into mass graves by bulldozers and thrown into pits or onto bon fires by their fellow prisoners who were forced to do so by gun point.
So we walked, my son and I through the pictures and exhibits that had been collected in this small museum in the heart of Dallas. I watched in amazement as the 10 year old boy, who loves to talk to you about his passions and joke with his friends, became silent and went methodically through the museum listening to everything his recorded guide had to say about each item.

After the permanent exhibits we viewed the special installation of children’s art from the camps. The pictures were beautiful, and haunting and heartbreaking. We learned that of the 6 million Jews murdered in the Holocaust, 1.5 million of them were children under 15.
I was so proud of him. He didn’t try to keep up with his friends, he didn’t turn away. He just stared and listened and asked questions. Mom, are those really shoes from the people who were killed? Are those real bodies? Why did people hate the Jews? They did medical experiments on that guy? Did they really kill the kids? How could anyone do this?

How indeed?
When we look at someone different than us and decide that they are less than us,
When we judge entire peoples as cursed by God and less than human,
When we begin to believe the lie that the world would be a better place if everyone just looked like, acted like and believed like me,
When we can look in the face of a child and rather than seeing something beautiful we see something we despise,
When we believe that it doesn’t concern us when others are harmed,
When we sit silently by and do nothing because to get involved puts us in danger too,
When we look the other way,
We begin the descent toward an evil which is unspeakable and unimaginable.
We must never forget.
We must show the pictures.
We must hear the stories.
We must not turn away.
We must be upstanders.

The quote in the picture at the beginning of this post is from Albert Einstein who once said, “The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”
Today I encourage us all to become what the Holocaust Museum referred to as upstanders. An upstander is a person who takes action, paricularly when the easiest or most acceptable course is to do nothing.
As with all of life it boils down to love. We must love our neighbors. All our neighbors. We must stand up and be counted on the side of love whenever and however possible. Sometimes that means we must stand in the gap and repel the forces of evil even when it means placing ourselves in harm’s way.
And…like my son learned today, we must never forget.

Girls can’t/shouldn’t/wouldn’t want to do that. -or- Rick Santorum & the DISD are out of touch.

Today Rick Santorum is in serious spin mode. Yesterday he said, “I want to create every opportunity for women to be able to serve this country, and they do so in an amazing and wonderful way and they’re a great addition — and they have been for a long time — to the armed services of our country.”  BUT?  “But I do have concerns about women in front-line combat, I think that could be a very compromising situation, where people naturally may do things that may not be in the interest of the mission, because of other types of emotions that are involved,” Santorum continued. “It already happens, of course, with the camaraderie of men in combat, but I think it would be even more unique if women were in combat, and I think that’s probably not in the best interest of men, women or the mission.”

This morning on the Today show he qualified his statement this way. “I think that when you have men and women in combat, I think men have emotions when you see a women in harm’s way I think that’s something that’s natural that’s very much in our culture to be protective. That was my concern, I think that’s a concern with all the military.”

I personally am with of the Washington Post on this one. In her article she says, “At first, he questions the prospect of women in the military serving in roles closer to the front lines because of “other types of emotions that are involved.” Then he clarifies it to say he meant men’s emotions, their cultural tendency to “be protective” that would surely skew their decisions in combat. So he insults the professionalism, sacrifice and military discipline of both male and female soldiers. I don’t think that solves his problem.”

Somewhere in the second theater of the war…

Last night after finishing a fantastic family night of takeout Chinese and American Idol the news popped on, here we heard this story:

DALLAS – The Dallas school district took students on a $57,000 field trip Thursday to see a movie.

The district bused about 5,000 fifth grade boys to the Mesquite 30 Theater to see the movie “Red Tails” because it coincides with lessons about World War II and Black History Month.

The movie is about the Tuskegee Airmen, the African American pilots who distinguished themselves by their bravery during the war.

The fifth grade girls had to stay behind and watch the movie “Akeelah and the Bee” in the classroom. That’s because teachers decided the trip would appeal more to boys than girls. But later this month the girls will get their turn on a field trip to visit with a group of female mentors.

Still, some parents think the Tuskegee Airmen field trip would have been good for boys and girls.

“That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. I think they all would have enjoyed it. It’s part of history. They should have been able to go see it,” said Amanda Copeland, a parent.

The districts admits it did have to pay up $32,000 to rent the movie theater and $25,000 for bus transportation, but said it will get reimbursed with federal grant money.

I have a NUMBER of issues with this.

#1. “Teachers decided the trip would appeal more to boys than girls” The boys saw Red Tails about the Tuskegee Airmen and the girls will be going to hear a group of 100 women mentors. Really?

#2. In another article Dallas ISD spokesman Jon Dahlander said, “There is only so much available space at the movie theater, so the decision was made for boys to attend the movie” Really?

#3. Separating the kids by gender for field trips has been going on for a couple years

#4. We are going to spend 57k taking 5000 boys to this movie when we have a 25 million dollar budget shortfall in the DISD, we laid off at least 200 teachers last year, and we closed 11 schools last year? Really?

#5. Its okay, we are (probably) going to be reimbursed by the Federal Government. Really?

Now to address them

#1. Did they ask the kids what appealed to them more or are they assuming because it is about war and the Tuskegee Airmen (who were all men) that the girls wouldn’t be interested? That is akin to only sending the African American children because the Tuskegee Airmen were all African American. Ridiculous. Also, since when is what appeals more to the kids the issue? Are we not making the decision based on educational points. The District is now trying to claim that is was an educational decision. The District said this was a supplement to the unit on WWII that the kids are learning about in the classroom. So what, pray tell, does Akeelah and the Bee have to do with WWII? Why did the boys receive the supplement to the unit and the girls did not? Retired Air Force Capt. Barbara A. Wilson, who manages a website about women in the military, called Dallas ISD’s decision to exclude girls ridiculous. “It sounds like something from the dark ages,” she said. “What century is this?” I would recommend they read about the women of the Israel Defense Forces. One recent graduate of their Ground Forces officer training course, Orian Levy who is 19 years old, enlisted in 2009, to be a combat soldier at the MLRS battalion in the Artillery Corps. Even though she serves in a unit specializing in operating heavy weaponry, she says that “female combat soldiers are treated just the same as male ones.” It was very important to her to go to officer’s course, from which she graduated with honors, in order to instill values in her soldiers. Her motto is: “I’ve always been there for my friends, and I will be there for my future soldiers.”

I have the same concern with why the boys won’t be going to hear the 100 women mentors later this month. This just says to the boys, women mentors are only for girls; they have nothing to offer to boys. Perhaps if we begin affording boys more exposure to powerful and successful women we will change the thought that men and boys have nothing to learn from them. I really hoped we were getting past these types of things in society if not in the church.

#2. Shelley Correll, an associate sociology professor at Stanford University who writes about gender equity in education, said Dallas ISD should have provided equal opportunities for all students. “Not having space for everyone does not justify using gender to decide who gets to participate in an educational outing,” she said. “This sort of blatant gender discrimination is actually quite shocking in 2012.” THAT.

#3. According to the DISD rep this is not out of the ordinary. How is this supposed to make me feel better? It just makes me think why did it take us this long to hear about it? Was it the money? If so that is sad. Just sad.

#4. I have seen people saying that the 11 or so dollars per kid isn’t that expensive for a field trip. However as my brilliant husband said in a Facebook comment thread on this subject, “$60k may or may not be cheap, but that isn’t the point. In this terrible economy, one can buy a Hatteras Yacht really, really cheap. But if a person cannot afford to pay their rent on their apartment, it probably isn’t a good idea to go spend money on a yacht. This is just another example of unwise government spending.” I do love that man.

#5. This is supposed to make me feel better? As my amazing husband also said so eloquently in the same thread, “Reimbursed by federal grant money? So, let me see if I get this right. WE pay OUR taxes to D.C, they scrub off a bunch to pay a boat load of bureaucrats to sit around and decide that the money should be earmarked for special events (like movies?), DISD pays a boat load of bureaucrats to decide to use the grant money to take kids to the movies, and I am now supposed to be happy with DISD’s explanation that none of “our” money was used? Huh? Do people really believe there is some magical source of money flowing from D.C.? News flash for DISD leaders: It is our money!” Um yeah, we are the federal government and, by the way, this is part of the reason why the Federal Government is swimming in the red.

Some days I am encouraged by the way things are going and the progress that is being made. Some days, I decidedly am not.