Yesterday I went to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.  It was a big day for field trips.  The exhibits were jammed with kids of various ages, some serious and some running amok.  It was hard to concentrate.  As I sped through the halls to get ahead of them, I walked by a group of boys.  "This is a very sad place," I overheard a young man remark to his friends.  They agreed.  I silently did as well.

Before the kids caught up with me again, I was able to read about Hannah Senesh in peace for a few minutes.  She was a young poet who had moved to Palestine before the war, but volunteered to go back to Europe as a saboteur to save Jews.  She was caught and sentenced to death.  Before her execution, she wrote a poem with the following lines:


I could have been twenty-three next July;
I gambled on what mattered most,
The dice were cast.  I lost.


The rowdy crowd surrounded me while I tried not to cry too hard.  By the time I entered the last exhibit of the museum, which was about post-Holocaust life, the school groups had gone.  I sat down to watch a long looping film in which survivors spoke about various experiences, such as the three survivors who were part of an uprising at the Sobibor death camp.  I heard some people behind me sniffling as I did the same.  A woman in the film implored, "Remember the agony of the survivors who had to live with the memories (of their loved ones)... who can never touch them, never have them back."  Her face was contorted and her voice broke.

I thought about my grandfather and the door he shut on his past.  As I cried my semi-private tears, I heard someone behind me doing the same.  This world is a very sad place indeed. 

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