I’d like to begin by thanking Rector Shattuck and Anna-Mária Biró for organizing this event and the conference last year, and to thank Dr. Pető and Prof. Thorson for editing and bringing this book into being, and to all of you for keeping this important issue of Holocaust Memorialization alive and open for discussion.
Keeping this issue in focus is particularly important at this time and in this place, in Hungary, where so many tragic episodes of the Holocaust took place, and where even today there remains some dispute in the public discourse over what really took place, who participated, and where some people even question the basic historical facts of the Holocaust.
Since my arrival a little over four months ago, I’ve become fascinated at the complexity of the historical debate I occasionally see reflected in the news. While I can’t claim the depth of scholarly knowledge of my fellow speakers, who have devoted a lifetime to studying the Holocaust, I do know from my experience as an American, that working through painful eras in a nation’s history can produce a stronger and more honest form of patriotism.
As I read portions of this book I reflected on my own country’s evolution in historical memorialization as we have worked through the issues of slavery and the treatment of our Native American population. I thought of the central role that education has played in our still incomplete journey toward forming what President Lincoln called a “more perfect Union.”
This book is an excellent example of how that process needs to take place; how it must take place. I am thankful to those of you who contributed to the book, whether as writers or editors or publishers. Please know that both, personally, and as the representative of the United States government, you have our gratitude and our support as you continue this work which is so necessary and so timely. Thank you.