‘Days of Remembrance’ Honors Anne Frank Story
The theme of the State of Georgia’s 2023 official Holocaust memorial program was, “Anne Frank: One Story Among Millions.”
The State of Georgia’s 2023 official Holocaust commemoration program, Days of Remembrance, held April 28 at the Georgia State Capitol, in the stately House of Representatives Chambers, was a solemn and emotional tribute.
The annual observance is a program of The Georgia Commission on the Holocaust, a non-partisan, non-religious state agency dedicated to preserving the memory of the Holocaust and promoting public understanding of the history.
This year’s theme, “Anne Frank: One Story Among Millions,” used the example of the well-known teenage Holocaust diarist to illustrate that each person who experienced the Holocaust had their own unique experience and story. Speaking to that point were special guest Ronald Leopold, executive director of the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, and keynote speaker, Dr. Doyle Stevick, executive director of the Anne Frank Center at the University of South Carolina.
Commenting on the program’s theme, GCH executive director Sally Levine said, “Not all hiding places remained safe or available for the duration of the Holocaust. Some children were moved from place to place, forcing them to adapt — again and again — to strange surroundings. Some found sanctuary in dangerous or inhospitable locations: closets, barns, sewers. In some cases, children who had been abandoned by their rescuers or had become orphaned, were left without protection, relying on their own abilities, to survive.”
Levine added, referring to some Holocaust survivors in attendance, “We are blessed, here in Georgia, to be among some of these hidden children today, and to have preserved the stories of those who have passed away. These incredible stories of survival, of resourcefulness, of courage, are the stories of the hidden children. They are the last, precious witnesses of the Holocaust.”
The program opened with the presentation of colors by the Lovejoy High School Junior ROTC from Hampton, Ga. and the Pledge of Allegiance led by 99-year-old World War II veteran and liberator Hibby Margol, accompanied by Department of Veteran Services Chief Operations Officer Kerry Dyer, followed by video-recorded greetings from Gov. Brian Kemp and First Lady Marty Kemp, who emphasized the importance of observing the memory of the Holocaust.
Georgia State Attorney General Chris Carr read the official state Days of Remembrance Proclamation. Gabriel Sterling, chief operating officer of the Georgia Secretary of State office spoke about the concern of antisemitism today, and Alex Gandler, deputy consul general of Israel to the Southeast U.S., addressed the importance of Israel at its 75th anniversary this year.
Georgia Schools superintendent Richard Woods presented JoAnn Wood with the 2023 Distinguished Educator Award. Over her career, Wood spent 40 years as a classroom teacher, then served as social studies supervisor at the district level and finally, social studies program specialist with the Georgia Department of Education.
During the candle lighting ceremony, the centerpiece of the program, six candles were lit: for all the Holocaust victims, including political dissidents, the disabled and those whom today we call members of the LGBTQ+ community; for the 1.5 million children who perished; for the liberators; for the survivors who continue to bear witness; and for the second and third generation who now are the ones who share their family’s stories and legacies. Finally, the sixth candle was lit in memory of the survivors and liberators who are no longer with us. A six-minute video montage was presented in their memory. The link to this moving video can be found on the Commission’s website at holocaust.georgia.gov.
Eight countries were represented from the international consular corps based in Atlanta including Argentina, Belgium, Britain, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Japan, and the Netherlands.
Rabbi Peter Berg, senior rabbi at The Temple, recited the El Maleh Rachamim prayer in Hebrew and English for the souls of those who have died. The program concluded with the Hymn of the Jewish Partisans, an uplifting song noting the bravery and courage of the Jewish resistance fighters, sung by the Atlanta Young Singers.
- Holocaust commemoration program
- Days of Remembrance
- Georgia Commission on the Holocaust
- Anne Frank: One Story Among Millions
- Ronald Leopold
- Dr. Doyle Stevick
- Anne Frank Center
- University of South Carolina
- Sally Levine
- Lovejoy High School Junior ROTC
- Pledge of Allegiance
- World War II
- Hibby Margol
- Kerry Dyer
- Gov. Brian Kemp
- First Lady Marty Kemp
- Chris Carr
- Alex Gandler
- LGBTQ+ community
- the Netherlands
- Rabbi Peter Berg
- El Maleh Rachamim
- Hymn of the Jewish Partisans