March of the Living – Video Message

March of the Living 2018

Video Message by Chargé David Kostelancik

– as delivered –

On behalf of the United States, I commend you for raising your voice today for peace, understanding, and tolerance.

Your voices matter, because words have consequences.

A very different set of words mattered deeply in the 1930s, when Nazi leaders relentlessly denigrated Jewish people.  They dehumanized them in the eyes of their fellow citizens and used fear to drive their nation into the brutal murder of millions of people.

The world was traumatized by the horror of the Holocaust, and after the war, we vowed “Never Again.”

We built institutions like the United Nations, NATO and the OSCE to preserve the peace, promote dialogue, and defend liberty and human rights.

Ordinary citizens joined together to seek justice for the survivors, to educate their children and their neighbors about the Holocaust, and to lobby their governments, including through the noble efforts of civil society organizations, to reject hate, intolerance, and anti-Semitism.

However, peace is not inevitable.  It is the product of choices we make every day— choices to teach our history accurately, to respect our shared institutions, to resolve our differences peacefully, and to accept the rights and acknowledge the dignity of those who are different from us.

Today, the world is confronting enormous change and uncertainty.

In times of stress, there is greater temptation to blame “the Other” when we have problems: the person who looks or worships differently than we do, or who comes from somewhere else.

For this reason, the lessons of our past are more important than ever: we must continue to speak out in favor of peace, tolerance, and understanding.

In remembering Holocaust victims last month, President Trump recalled the many brave heroes who risked their lives to help their persecuted neighbors in those terrible years, and spoke of our

“civic duty never to remain silent or indifferent in the face of evil.”

Thank you for raising your voices today.  Thank you for remembering, and defending, the dignity of our fellow human beings.