My Day

Today, I went on an "In-School-Field Trip" at my high school. The topic of this “field trip” was Genocide. Two men and two women, who were affected by genocides, told us their own personal stories. For the first time in my life, I learned the true horrors of mankind: Genocide. They told stories of how “ethnic cleansing” our world, hurts everybody. One man told a story about his grandmother, who lived through the Armenian Genocide in 1915. He told us how she was sold as a slave to a Turkish family and served them for 7 years until her only surviving family member helped her run away. To be honest, I had never heard of the genocide that killed thousands, if not millions, of innocent Armenian people. I was very surprised to learn that a group of heartless killers did exactly what Adolf Hitler would later do 30 years later.
Another man told the horrible story of his childhood in Cambodia during the Korean War. He said that when he was only 5-years-old, he was taken from his family and forced to be a soldier, fighting against his own people. Because he was so young, he does not remember much of his home life nor does he know his true birth date! It was heart wrenching to hear his story of learning to operate high-tech guns and machinery in a camp, rather than learning to read and write like other children his age. He did not learn to read, write, or speak English until he was 14-years-old and was adopted by an American family in Connecticut! I cannot fathom why people insist on bringing children, innocent young kids, into their horrible killing ways.
One of the women was a sweet elderly woman who grew up in The Netherlands during World War II. She actually said she knew the well-known diary-writer Anne Frank back in elementary school, before the war. She said she did not know what happened to her until she picked up Anne Frank’s diary years later. She also described witnessing Jewish temples being burnt to the ground right outside her home. She explained how her family moved into an apartment building and how Nazi soldiers barged in, woke her, and tried to take her and her family away, all because a Jewish family had once lived there. One could see the terror in her eyes as she relived her tale. Afterwards she told us all that she had never before told her story publicly because she was too frightened.
The last speaker, a young woman, tore my heart out with her story in Yugoslavia. She told us she was a teenager at the time, only 15-years-old and how she saw the hidden lines between families after the Soviet Union fell. They had many different religions and ethnicities but they were able to live peacefully. Then one day, horror began. Men. Women. Children. None were spared. She described how she watched helplessly as groups of innocent people were shot, or blown up right before her eyes. She explained how she lost her father, her brothers, and all but one sister. She then shared the story of losing her husband and high school sweetheart, whom she had recently married, in a bombing. He died instantly and she lost her right arm. That happened less than 20 years ago.
I will never forget what they taught me today. They taught me that nobody is perfect. They taught me that, people can be more than cruel. They taught me that history does not repeat itself, but it often rhymes. I hope that the people of the world will get these stories out. I hope that genocide is something that never happens again. I hope that America, Canada, Germany, Japan, China, France, Darfur, South Africa, Afghanistan, the whole world, can learn to except others as they are, and to let them live freely. I learned that we, as human beings, are still learning, always.





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