Dear Editor: I read the article by Amber Pittman in the Oct. 7 Covington News which summarized the lecture given to the ninth grade class at Newton High School by Mr. Andre Kessler. Mr. Kessler is a Holocaust survivor and shared many personal and agonizing memories from his childhood. This reminded me of a similar lecture given to a fifth-grade elementary classroom in Newton County by another member of the Breman Jewish Heritage and Holocaust Museum of Atlanta that I had the privilege to attend nearly 10 years ago. At the conclusion of that lecture, a fifth-grade boy stood up and said to the speaker, "sir, I don’t know you or your family. I just feel that I have to apologize to you and your family before you leave today for the terrible things that happened to you." There was not a dry eye in the classroom. That comment took courage and it took character.
I then turned to page 5A in the Covington News and read "Our thoughts…" I was so sad to read how some of the ninth graders responded to Mr. Kessler. I was shocked to think that they could be bored about his account of human survival. Why weren’t the students removed from the lecture who laughed and talked? It is just impossible to believe that some young people could be so self-absorbed that he would need to stop his lecture to ask them if they were tired? Tired? After all that he and his family endured? The students had the opportunity to learn so much about the human spirit during this experience. Then, to laugh at a fellow student who asked a poignant question about how not to be an innocent bystander. It is just reprehensible. I have been wondering what Mr. Kessler was thinking as he drove home after the lecture that day.
We viewed the young man in Chicago on the news who was beaten to death because he would not join a gang. I kept asking my self, "Why didn’t someone run for help? Why didn’t all the people who recorded the death on their phones try to intervene?" They were all bystanders. How did so much go so wrong in such a short time for so many of our young people?