History Lessons 

Twenty years ago I visited Dauchu — the first concentration camp built by the Nazis in an old ammunition plant not far from Munich.

I confess, I didn’t want to go. I knew it would be hard. I knew it would be upsetting. I knew my heart would break.

I was right.

But it’s important to understand history. And there’s no substitute for standing in the very spot where it happened.

Like most Americans, my DNA comes from a lot of different places. But I’m more German than anything.  

As we walked around the grounds, I realized I could have had relatives in this camp.

And then I realized my relatives could have been the Nazis guarding this camp.

That chilled me to the bone.

I wondered, as we walked through the nearby village, if the German people knew what was happening behind these walls. Had they resisted? Had they tried to help?

And I told myself I would have. I was American. We wouldn’t have done this.

Today, my words haunt me. Because today I march against totalitarianism and fascism right here, in my country. In the United States of America.

This election has destroyed my perception of what it means to be American. Everything I learned in history class… in social studies… in political science… about our American beliefs in equality, opportunity and justice lies shattered at my feet.

I see history repeating itself. And it’s my turn to do the right thing.

Today I am that German villager.

So today I march. For my kids. For your kids. For the kids who died at those concentration camps in Europe. For the kids who died in the Japanese internment camps right here in the USA. For the kids dying in Syria right now.

History will judge us. 

Some day, a visitor will come to this country and ask if our people really knew what was happening in 2017. Did we seek justice? Did we take a stand? Did we honor the people who died for our American values over centuries?

I will do something. Today my resistance begins.

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