Memory Lane

Shoes … A Reminder To Never Forget

Photo courtesy of United States Holocaust Memorial Museum


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Shoes. Seemingly endless shoes. That’s all I can think about.


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I know you cannot be talking about my closet.


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Far from it! It’s an image that’s forever burned in my memory. A pile of shoes, each one representing a life lost. Each one a story onto itself. Each one proof of something we should never forget.


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Normally, I would ask you to tell me what you are talking about or accuse you of being overly dramatic. But, not this time.


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When you sent me the article about the United Nations recently issuing a strong message against the denial or the distortion of the facts surrounding the Holocaust – the first thought that came to my mind was the shoes. How can you ignore the piles of victims’ shoes?!


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The same way you can ignore the documentary footage of the liberation of the concentration camps, and all the horrible evidence that was left behind. How do you ignore the many books on the subject, not to mention the first-hand accounts of survivors?


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I’m not saying that can be ignored. It’s almost unimaginable and horrible and heartbreaking. But there’s a difference between learning about history and literally standing feet away from thousands of shoes that had been worn by the victims, each representing not only a life but a family, a community.


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I understand. I read The Diary of Anne Frank in school, but when I walked through the actual house in Amsterdam, it became real. And overwhelming. That is why there are Holocaust Museums and memorials around the world. And, unfortunately, there were enough victims’ shoes to allow them to be displayed in many places.


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I remember the first time I went to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. It was only a few weeks after it opened in 1993, and although I was 30 years old and had learned about the Holocaust in school, it was still overwhelming. I’ll never forget that the exhibit with the shoes was filled with visitors, yet it had an eerie silence.


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Yes, it is a haunting experience. I remember you telling me, decades later, that after you and Sawyer visited the museum, of everything on display, that also was what struck her the most. And, I am guessing she probably heard less about the Holocaust in school than we did.


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Growing up, I remember hearing about the loss of 6 million Jews during the Holocaust, and that the world should “never forget.” But it seems that people are not only forgetting, but many are now denying it ever happened! Why else would the United Nations have to issue a statement?!


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A statement that also urges social media platforms to take active measures to combat antisemitism and Holocaust denial or distortion.


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What scares me the most is that the more people deny the Holocaust ever happened, the more likely such horrors can happen again. That history will repeat itself.


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You are the lover of history, not me, and for years have told me that not acknowledging history dooms you to repeat the mistakes. But, that is also true of all of us. If we do not acknowledge mistakes, then we are apt to repeat them.


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Fine, but how do you combat not only hate, but lies, lies that are accepted as truth. Tell me how you do that.


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There is no easy answer. That may be why there is an International Holocaust Remembrance Day. But, one day a year is not enough for each of us to focus on seeking the truth, and not repeating things if we are not sure they are true. And, sharing what we know to be true.


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Like the overwhelming emotion brought on by piles and piles of victim’s shoes? Shoes that scream out, “Never forget“ or, maybe more accurately, “Never forget me.”


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The only way to make sure we “never forget” is for us to “always remember” and help others do the same.

New Year’s Eve is one of those nights (Black calls them “forced” celebrations) that often have great expectations attached to it. Many people make a big deal of it, but we prefer a lowkey approach, making the evening “special” by spending it with special people – for Red, her daughters, and for Black, close friends.

Some years it can be a bittersweet celebration (if loved ones have passed or no longer live close to home), but that can remind you of what’s most important.

So, let’s all toast to the promise and hope of a new year … and to champagne and toilet paper.



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New Year's Eve seems like the perfect time to stroll down memory lane, although I'm guessing your memories are much more interesting than mine.


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"Interesting" is a subjective word. Regardless, are you talking about memories in general? Or, New Year's Eve celebrations?


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Actually, it was just a passing comment. But since you've always seemed to make a bigger deal out of New Year's Eve than I have, are there any years that really stand out?


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Truth is the most memorable ones are the ones spent with celebrating with closest friends versus crowds. In fact, I think I have spent more than half of my New Year's Eves with John and Diana. Although, I will never forget bringing in 2000.
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BLACK: I do not know at what age my Christmas memories began, but I do remember being very young and in awe of a very large – and very well decorated – Christmas tree in our family room. I even remember peeking down the stairs late one evening and seeing my mother standing extremely close to Santa Claus. OK, you might not find that an unusual memory, except my family is Jewish.

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Photo by klohka on iStock

As soon as Black wrote it, it became one of Red’s favorite posts, and now it’s a Red & Black Thanksgiving tradition. After all, what could be a better Turkey Day tradition than memories of a perfect turkey?

And it’s the perfect way to wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving that, as Black says below, is … filled with memories that will last a lifetime.

Today is Thanksgiving, and I cannot help but wonder why we are online. However, everyone has their own way of celebrating. I know that Red is in the kitchen cooking – and watching a marathon of "The Godfather" movies. Which is perfect as turkeys take such a long time to cook and patience is important when you want it perfectly browned. So inviting, so appetizing, so … naked?

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