This Thursday marked the end of my metro-read, The Sunflower. In the vein of Elie Wiesel, the author, Simon Wiesenthal, is a Holocaust survivor who is summoned to the deathbed of a 21-year-old Nazi soldier asking for forgiveness.
The story ends with a question from Wiesenthal to us: what would we do in his shoes? And answers to his question in essays by activists, politicians, Bosnian refugees, the Dalai Llama etc.
Three days after I tucked the paperback into my shelf, I visited the Holocaust museum here in D.C. with a friend. It was weather to reflect my mind -- cold, wet, with a harsh wind. I trudged through the exhibit, reading and watching what I could, allowing my mind to wander when I need a break.
There were photos that made me sick to my stomach, and charts that made me glower at everyone -- the American government, the Italians, the civilians, myself. There were so many names and faces and locks of hair. There were scrolls of Torah that conjured up some dear friends. And there were shoes. So many shoes.
I thought about the Holocausts going on around the world right now. I thought about the swastika I drew on an art piece in 2nd grade -- a symbol I only knew to be part of my own tradition instead of skewed and slandered on a hideous flag.
At the very end of the exhibit there was a remembrance hall with candles lining the stone walls. Most of them flickered, most of them danced. But a few of them had blown out and there were no matches to relight them.