If you've never been to the annual Holocaust Memorial Service in Marquette, my wish is that next year you attend.
This past Monday was my second consecutive year serving as The Mining Journal reporter covering the event. My hope was to convey to those not attending just what they missed, but my efforts did not meet that goal, I fear.
For those unfamiliar, the evening is sponsored by Temple Beth Sholom, the Marquette Interfaith Forum, The Cohodas Family and Northern Michigan University's Hillel, which is a foundation for Jewish campus life.
The service takes place each year at St. Peter Cathedral in Marquette and features music by the Marquette Male Chorus and prayers/readings by people from a variety of faiths.
Each year, the planners find a survivor to speak about the Holocaust. The person who spoke this year was Paul Hollander, who grew up in Hungary and experienced life under the rule of Nazis and Communists.
It was the first time he'd spoken in public about his experiences as a 12-year-old boy living through one of history's most horrifying times. Dr. Hollander, who is a noted lecturer and author, did a wonderful job telling his story.
The truth about the Holocaust must be told often. As the years roll by, the number of survivors is dwindling and it's vital their stories be preserved. We must never forget the millions of lives taken. We must not allow revisionists to deny the Holocaust occurred.
The power of that message went beyond Hollander's words during the service which is why being there is an experience everyone should have, in my estimation.
The cathedral is an extraordinarily gorgeous building, inside and out. Waiting for the service to begin, I sat drinking in the beauty around me, from the mural high up on the wall behind the altar to the intricate and glorious stained-glass windows.
The opening, a solemn procession of sign-carrying people of all ages, always provides perspective. The signs listed the number of people slaughtered during the Holocaust, categorizing by country, by religion or by other factor that led the Nazis to attempt extermination.
During the service, the Marquette Male Chorus offered several selections and as their music majestically swelled, I realized it didn't matter which faith background each man brought with him. What mattered was their voices blended so perfectly. They were one voice, sharing the music with us.
Readings and prayers were offered from a number of different religions, remembering in their own special way those who had passed on.
While the entire service was wonderfully put together, there is one portion that brought me to tears. This year's vocal soloist was Elizabeth Grugin. While I know nothing about Elizabeth, as she lifted her fabulous voice in song, I thought of the hundreds of thousands of young people like her whose lives were lost in the Holocaust.
Lovely and vibrant, Elizabeth sang with grace as all eyes focused on her. She was amazing and I wept for the kids who never had the chance to shine. That, alone, made me realize how important a service such as this can be.
Paul Lehmberg shared a reading from the Buddhist tradition a little before Elizabeth sang, and it is with those words I encourage each of you reading this little column of mine to consider attending next year's Holocaust Memorial Service:
"Hate is not conquered by hate. Hate is conquered by love. That is the eternal law."
Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253. Her email address is rprusi@miningjournal. net.