Category Archives: HistoryBeats

The world beneath your feet: Day at Auschwitz

You feel the cold water splashing over your face. It drips down your neck as you slowly turn off the water. Staring at the old tile walls in front of you, you almost cannot believe it is already the end, and you are only 20.

Rubbing your eyes and feeling like the darkness you see. You send a pray up to a God you hope receives it.

Silently, like a machine, you take off your clothes. Carefully and slowly, making extra care as you fold your uniform. You are observing yourself doing this from what seems like an eagle-eyes perspective. Feeling completely unattached from yourself. Knowing this will be the last time you will ever feel cold water against your skin. And feeling okay with that.

Walking up the prison stairs, the door opens before you and the line of other intellects, Jews and Gypsies. Light floods in, and a cold wind slaps you across your naked body. Walking single fill over the sharp rocks, you precede.

But at least your still feel the earth beneath your feet.

You stand there exposed. Everything is heightened. You hear and see everything even though you wish you didn’t. You are present. Completely feeling the earth underneath your blistered feet, the weather across your bruised skin and the beating of your heart within your chest. It is so unreal. Shot after shot. The dropping of bodies to the earth. Your last seconds have finally come. What are you thinking about? 

BOOM.

The person next to you falls to the ground. Looking down at the blood that has been blasted on your arm, you finally know it is your turn. Breathing in, breathing out, you turn up and look at your executor straight in the eyes.

I try and block everything out. The people, the cameras, and the guide’s voice. I stand in that spot as everyone continues on without me. That spot, that place, which has ended so many stories. The Shotting Wall.

I am imaging those final walks, those final humanly connections, and those last moments they felt the world beneath thier feet. Imagining those final glances up at the sky, I hope that they saw a bird flutter past.

I hope there was a hint of peace in their hearts, or maybe a sliver of happiness as they thought back on their memories. The memories that the SS could have never taken away- the memories of times before Auschwitz. Before they were persecuted, judged and tortured for their race, religion or political beliefs.

I can almost hear those gun shots. The falling bodies. I can almost feel the thousands of last breaths taken on that single piece of earth. I can almost feel the hatred.

“The one who does not remember history is bound to live through it again”

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Do you Remember: 10th Anniversary of 9-11

A week from today, 10 years ago, I was in the 5th grade and I was on my way to school with my neighbors. Everyone in the car was listening to the radio as we heard of the news in New York. All day teachers huddled in whispers, and we were so young and didn’t quite understand what was going on. The night was filled with the flashing lights from the TV. Pictures of the planes hitting the World Trade Center over and over again replayed. Images of people jumping out of windows. The Towers falling.

Years pasts, and the stories slowly began to surface. Books were written that revealed the scars that day left, and documentaries were made that would make any man cry. And even though I was not directly effected by those terrorist attacks on 9-11-2001, everyone was changed that day in America.

Next Sunday America will once again put aside its fears and political differences, and unite as one. There will be memorials, news reports, stories, and hugs filling our nation; and I challenge you to stop and think about where you were that day, and maybe even share how you were changed.

I’m so proud the be an American, and I still remember.

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Pennsylvania State House: Gettin’ Patriotic People

After living abroad in Europe, seeing the problems in the Middle East, and hearing of the famines in Somila, it is hard not to be a proud American. Yes, I agree, we have no culture, we are overweight, often times we are ignorant and our economy is shit, but we gotta put things in perspective America: we got it damn good!

This summer  I lived only 30 minutes away from the city of brotherly love, Philadelphia, and I took a Revolutionary American History class at the University of Delaware. Now hows that for gettin’ patriotic?

Random Fun Fact:      So have any of you guys ever wondered what the phrase, The First State, means on the Delaware license plate? Umm… well for a majority of you, you probably have not. But for me, I have been speculating that question ever since I moved to Delaware. Not even my mother, who has lived in Delaware for three years knew the meaning of the phrase. So, to solve the question everyone is (I’m sure) dying to know: Delaware was actually “the first state’ to ratify the US Constitution- they were the first state on board for a unified United States! Now thats gettin’ patriotic 😉

As a twenty year old, living in American during the 21st century, I am sad to say that not until my Revolutionary History class did I know much about America’s path towards freedom and the ultimate ratification of the Constitution. I knew very little about how my rights of life, liberty and property came about and how the government, under which I live, works. I sadly wouldn’t have been able to tell you the difference between the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. For me, gettin’ Patriotic was: a cold beer, grillin’ burgers and hanging out at the beach watching fireworks on the 4th.

Most likely if I was to go around and ask my fellow peers and even our parents how they think America gained its freedom from Great Britain, I would probably receive a colorful array of answers. And a month ago, if I was to ask myself to sum up America’s fight for independence, I would have described a glorious battle ending in rockets and fireworks going off on the 4th of July, George Washington bravely leading the colonists to victory, and Francis Scott Key being inspired to write “The Star-Spangled Banner” after watching a dramatic American victory in battle (which, come to find out, was not even during the American Revolution!). I would have thought on such famous images as of George Washington bravely leading his soldiers across the Delaware River, soldiers coming together to rise up the American flag (which, once again, this image was not from the American Revolution), but nonetheless, my image of the was a painful, yet unified fight for independence. However, freedom and independence for the thirteen colonies was not inevitable, and at many times it seemed to be very unlikely.

So like the good student I am , my mom and I drove up to Philadelphia a few weekends ago to get a first hand look at what I had been learning in my class (and not to mention getting a big ass Philly cheese steak!). First on our list for Philadelphia site-seeing was, of course, the Liberty Bell and to have a tour through the Pennsylvania State House (or better know as Independence Hall, aka. where the Declaration of Independence was signed). Reserving our tickets online, and getting to Philly bright and early to beat the summer heat was very worth it! We saw the Liberty Bell and had a wonderful tour through the State House all before 11AM, AND we beat the summer crowds! So I highly recommend, if you are planning on going to Philadelphia soon, to not put off these two tourist attractions till later in the day!

All in all, this has truly been the summer of getting in touch with my ‘American roots’ and really being proud of who I am. I will now always hold dear to me that my rights and freedoms were not inevitable, and even though, hundreds of years later my rights seem to be common sense, they weren’t always so. They weren’t for Americans before winning the Revolution, and they still aren’t today for MANY, many other people around the world.

So I leave you with this, stop assuming, start learning, and always be thankful for the things you have.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.- Declaration of Independence, 1776

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