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Posted: October 7, 2009 12:00 a.m.

Deaf ears

"We in the United States should be all the more thankful for the freedom and religious tolerance we enjoy. And we should always remember the lessons learned from the Holocaust, in hopes we stay vigilant against such inhumanity now and in the future."
­- Charlie Dent

The ninth grade students at Newton High School have been reading the memoirs of Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel called "Night," which was written about the Holocaust and the millions of Jewish people who were brutally exterminated by the Nazi administration in the late 30's and 40's.

We applaud the administration of Newton High for requiring this book be read; to that end, Andre Kessler, a member of the Breman Jewish Heritage and Holocaust Museum in Atlanta, was invited to speak to the ninth grade class in an assembly last week.

You can read Kessler's story in today's paper.

It is a story of perseverance, determination and hope.

The Holocaust was the most heinous crime against human beings that the world has ever seen. The circumstances and brutality of its happening should never be forgotten by our generation or by future generations.

Mr. Kessler spoke from his heart. We were appalled to hear of the disrespect and non-concern shown by a large group of the ninth grade students at the assembly as they talked and moved around throughout his speech. Many did not listen to Kessler or each other as several students asked the same questions. One student was laughed at and ridiculed when she asked the question, what can we do to not be "bystanders?" We think that was a marvelous question and that the young woman who asked it will certainly make more of herself than the children who laughed at her.

We also were disappointed that more teachers who witnessed this disrespect did nothing to stop it even after Kessler stopped the speech and asked if the students were tired and if he should stop speaking.

Along those lines, we do not think it is the responsibility of a school system to teach our children manners and how to treat people with respect; that is the duty of parents. We do, however, expect teachers who are supervising our children to see that respect and manners are exhibited by their students.

When the day comes that you or your children stop thinking that an event like the Holocaust has no significance, then the chances of it happening again are real.

If you have a child or a grandchild please take the time to explain that there was a time in our history that one evil man along with his advisors tried to mercilessly exterminate a race of people from the face of the earth and in doing so killed more than six million Jewish mothers, fathers and children.

If we are not ever vigilant, then similar atrocities can occur.

We appreciate men of courage like Andre Kessler for caring enough to continue to share his message, even if it falls on mostly deaf ears.


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