FORT LEE, Va. - The Fort Lee community is invited to recognize Holocaust Remembrance Day with an observance April 18, 11:30 a.m., in the Lee Theater. Admission to the event is free and open to the public.
The observance supports an annual eight-day period called the Days of Remembrance of the Victims of the Holocaust, which was designated by Congress to help citizens commemorate and draw lessons from one of the most tragic periods in European history when the Nazi regime murdered millions, many of them Jews, under the guise of ethnic cleansing.
Jay Ipson, 83, a Holocaust survivor and co-founder and former executive director of the Virginia Holocaust Museum in Richmond, will be the featured speaker. Ipson and his family endured horrific experiences during the Holocaust in Lithuania.
In 1941, the Nazis forced Ipson, then 6 years old, his parents and thousands of other Jews into the Kovno ghetto. In 1943, the three escaped and lived safely with a Polish-Catholic family in their one room farmhouse for several months. His father feared, however, the Nazis could find them, so he dug a 9x12 chamber under a potato field in the nearby woods. For the next six months, the three lived undetected with nine other family members in this hiding place. When the Russians liberated Lithuania, they moved back to their original house for nearly two years. With the Russians creating new dangers for Jews in 1945, they escaped to the American zone of Germany. In 1947, Ipson and his parents arrived in Richmond.
CASCOM, the Defense Contracting Management Agency and the Army Logistics University are the hosts for the observance. The theme this year is “Beyond Religious Boundaries: Learning from the Holocaust.”
The event will include a special slide show entitled “Holocaust Days of Remembrance” created by 1st Sgt. Julia J. Etheridge, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, ALU Support Battalion, and a lead coordinator for the observance. The 392nd Army Band will provide music during the program.
According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Congress unanimously passed legislation in 1980 to establish the United States Holocaust Memorial Council, which oversees the museum. The council, which succeeded the President’s Commission on the Holocaust, was charged with carrying out the following recommendations:
- That a national day of remembrance of victims of the Holocaust be established in perpetuity and be held annually.
- That a living memorial be established to honor the victims and survivors of the Holocaust and to ensure the lessons of that period of history will be taught in perpetuity.
- That an educational foundation be established to stimulate and support research in the teaching of the Holocaust.
Additional historic information can be found at www.ushmm.org or www.vaholocaust.org. For further details on the Fort Lee observance, contact Etheridge at 804-765-8131 or alternate coordinator Julia Smith at email@example.com.