The Holocaust has always been a fascinating part of history to me. To this day it continues to shock and amaze me that just one man with an evil plan and a heartless soul was able to brainwash thousands of people and get away with so much. During my junior year in high school, I was enrolled in the Holocaust in Literature class. Even though this was only a semester class, it had a huge effect on me. We read several stories, poems, and memoirs from holocaust survivors and at the end of the year we took a trip to the Holocaust Museum in St. Louis, Missouri which was the most amazing experience I’ve ever had.
On the way there, I wasn’t really thinking about how much my perspective on life would change after being in a museum for only a few hours. My friends and I were just being goofy teenagers, taking pictures on the bus with the biggest grins on our faces because we had a day out of the classroom. But as soon as I entered the building, everyone’s mood suddenly changed.
We were escorted through the museum by a tour guide who explained all of the displays and pictures that were posted on every wall. Due to a lack of time, we didn’t get to wander around the museum freely, and at the time I was glad we were forced to quickly view everything because with each passing picture my heart was breaking for these innocent people who had to experience such atrocities for no reason.
At the end of the tour we were lucky enough to listen to a survivor. Her name was Maria and she may not know it, but she has made a huge impact on my life. As she told her story to the class, my eyes began to well up with tears because I realized that I have taken so many things for granted; my family, my freedom, and even everyday things such as food and water. But Maria has had to fight for all of these things that she lost during her incarceration at Auschwitz. And while her story was incredibly heartbreaking, it was also inspiring. To see such a strong woman overcome everything that she experienced is truly amazing.
So, at times it may be hard to see all of the beauty this world has to offer when, even in this day and age, we are surrounded by so much hatred. But after a class field trip to the Holocaust Museum in St. Louis, Missouri, I’ve learned to appreciate everything I have and to never take anything for granted because I can’t even begin to fathom what Maria and her family went through and I feel truly blessed that I was able to meet such an incredible and strong woman.
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