July 2021 … a month of such contrasts and contradictions. Most of us have eagerly welcomed a return to restaurants and concerts and each other’s homes. But some are grieving the loss of a loved …
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July 2021 … a month of such contrasts and contradictions. Most of us have eagerly welcomed a return to restaurants and concerts and each other’s homes.
But some are grieving the loss of a loved one, or know someone who is. And still others are drained by long-haul COVID symptoms that no one knew much about a year ago. And now the Delta variant looms large as the pandemic takes yet another turn.
On July Fourth, though, many of us gathered with friends and family to celebrate the United States of America’s Independence Day with cookouts, lawn games, laughter and the sheer joy of being together again.
And for some, the Fourth of July is also often a time of reflection … the Star-Spangled Banner is, after all, a question. And for me personally, I commemorate the July 6, 1916, birthday of Eva Levine.
Eva was the second daughter of five children born to Jewish parents in Lodz, Poland. And, simply because they were Jewish, the family was one of millions transported to Nazi death camps. Eva somehow survived the horrors of Ravensbrück and Bergen-Belsen, to be liberated by the British April 1945. Having lost all the rest of her family, Eva emigrated to the U.S. at age 34 in 1950. The Holocaust Museum has no further record of her, and though I’ve tried to learn more, I know nothing else of Eva.
I do know this much of her ordeal because I was given Eva’s ID card #2633 when I visited the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. Actually, I selected Eva’s card at random from a bin of such cards for females — women and children — who were victims of the ghettos, deportations, concentration camps, and, for so many, the mass murders in the killing fields and gas chambers of the Holocaust.
I’ve long been a student of World War II and in particular the Holocaust — I’ve been shattered by documentaries and personal accounts, and I’ve seen photographs that have twisted my heart with both horror and sorrow.
That’s part of why I am unbearably proud that both my mother and father served in WWII, she in the Pacific after Pearl Harbor and he in Europe, after he had left Tulane University to enlist. Both are gone now, and there are too few remaining who can tell this story firsthand, who can bear witness to what they saw or what they knew.
And as the years have passed since that second world war, so has the awareness of why we fought against the Nazi regime. It’s true that without a human story, it’s sometimes difficult to grasp for a connection with those who served, those who were killed or wounded, those who were murdered in a vicious reign of calculated hate and indifferent cruelty.
I have Eva Levine’s ID card #2633 and, especially in the month of July, I return to her picture as the face of so much suffering for so many millions of people.
I also have photographs of both my mother and father, in uniform, who returned from the war, met and married, and became parents. Rosemary and Dant Slack were, and continue to be, my most human connection to the ideals of our independence… to the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Andrea Doray is a writer who urges all of us to connect with our American ideals by confronting hatred, taking action for human rights and promoting human dignity. Contact Andrea at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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