is an excerpt of the email we received from Edye
Caine, Social Studies Dept. Chair :
The kids are still talking about the trip and the impact that it and
you (Cor Suijk) have had on their lives!
admit, I find
myself reflecting back daily and working hard to live my life
one day at a time!
wanted to share a very exciting award being presented to the students,
and faculty who went on the trip with you...
2008, dear Dr. Terranova, We are pleased to announce the:"
of the tour
APRIL 10, 2008
CHURCH OF SAINT
JOSEPH, BRONXVILLE, NEW YORK.
17th ANNUAL COMMUNITY
andHUMAN RIGHTS COMMEMORATION THE 2008 THEME
"THE POWER TO INSPIRE" GIVEN BY THE ANNE HUTCHINSON LODGE (former) B'NAI B'RITH OF
EASTCHESTER-BRONXVILLE-TUCKAHOE TO THE
EASTCHESTER HIGH SCHOOL
STUDENT AND FACULTY TRAVELLERS
FOR THEIR COURAGEOUS STUDY
MISSION AND VISIT TO THE NOTORIOUS WORLD WAR II CONCENTRATION CAMPS IN GERMANY
and POLAND --
2008 THEME AWARD: "THE POWER
be presented to the entire group of students, faculty and parents
the form of a bronze descriptive commemorative plaque
the names of all
participants. (February 2008)
of the tour
Jonathan Levy, made a speech
representing our group.
Power to Inspire
one hears so much about people not caring, of being apathetic,
self-focused and avoiding social responsibilities. My generation in
particular, is singled out for this criticism. And, to be honest, I
believe much of the criticism is true. Many of us are fearful of
entering adulthood in a world which is at war, in which the economy is
crumbling and in which the environment is over-heating. |
pressure to get into a “good” college simply
increases this sense of
apprehension. It often seems that your entire twelve years in school
are just one test merging into another, all for the sake of compiling a
grade point average high enough to win for our parents the
prize of a sticker for their back car windows announcing that their son
or daughter has been accepted into a prominent university.
only has the love of learning been lost in the battle for grades, but
so has a larger perspective on life. Helping the homeless and the less
fortunate, becoming involved in the political system, volunteering to
make your community a better place to live often seem to be of interest
only if it will help us get into a good college.
acts of charity and community service seem to get lost in our busy
everyday schedules. Yet, it should not be this way. People, and
especially my generation, hunger for something better. We wish to
recapture the idealism of previous generations who marched on
Washington with Martin Luther King Jr. to tear down the barriers of
racism, volunteered throughout the world to teach the poor and those
less fortunate despite repercussions such protests might bring. All
that we need is a spark to reawaken this idealism. This spark of
inspiration can come from a multitude of sources. In my case, the
wake-up call came in the form of my participation in the Eastern
European Holocaust Tour trip.
At the start of the trip I
did not know exactly what to expect. Sure, I knew about the Holocaust,
or at least I thought I knew about it. But learning about something in
a book is quite different from walking in the path of history. From the
start, the police sirens in Amsterdam touched a nerve, as I imagined
what it must have been like for Jews in hiding, such as Anne Frank and
her family, to hear that noise, fearful that the police might be coming
for them at any time.
The Frank home, although
of all furniture, still conveys the sense of claustrophobia experienced
by the family. Her ordeal made me ashamed about how I had often
complained at her age as part of the teenage
“angst” I was
experiencing as part of the growing up experience. Anne Frank,
unfortunately, did not have the opportunity to grow up, her life
snuffed out by man’s inhumanity. Yet, she remained optimistic
mankind, a view that I found increasingly hard to share as the trip
The transit camp at Westerbork in
Holland, the so-called model concentration camp at Thieresenstadt, the
cemetery at Bergen Belsen, and the crematorium at Aushwitz, are all
examples to what happens when good people sit back and watch the evil
actions of others pass them. All these places, together with the house
in Wannasee, outside Berlin, where the Final Solution was planned, left
me cold, chilled to the bone.
While I was there in
I am certain that the chill would have run through my body even on the
warmest summer day. How did it happen? The Holocaust did not spring
into existence over night. First, dehumanize the Jews, then, take away
their legal rights. From there it is not hard to convince yourself that
they are subhuman and not entitled to any rights at all. All that was
needed was a spark, an inspiration of a madman which slowly and
overtook the minds and morals of the German people.
Sadly, inspiration can be for evil as well as good. The recent acts of
mass genocide committed in Rwanda and Bosnia were inspired by leaders
who led misguided people, fearful of the future and all too ready to
blame other groups for their problems. Man’s inhumanity to
man and his
capacity to do such evil actions fill our history textbooks and left me
depressed. Yet, that depression lifted when I heard the stories of our
tour guide, Cor Suijk. (Sow_k)
Cor is a righteous gentile
who during the war, at great risk to himself, sheltered Jews from the
Nazis. What makes Cor’s stories so inspirational is that he
his mistakes. For example Cor distinctively remembers an incident when,
due to peer pressure, he refused to lend his bicycle to a fellow
classmate, Eric. Years later, when Cor was a prisoner in a
concentration camp, he noticed that Eric was one of the SS guards. When
he asked Eric for help, Eric responded “don’t count
on me bastard.”
Eric had remembered the abuse he had put up with as a child. Perhaps,
had Cor shown Eric kindness in connection with the bicycle, Eric would
have been inspired for good, instead of evil.
Cor’s point is
that we are all interconnected. A good deed gets passed along and
somewhere and sometime will surely result in another act of kindness.
Similarly, when no one cares, evil triumphs over good. As Cor noted,
when he was a student he did not know many Jews, and when he asked a
friend why he hadn’t seen a fellow student in a while, the
responded that the missing student was a Jew, that Jews liked to be
alone. The truth, however, was quite different. The Jewish student,
faced with the Nazi oppression, and isolated from his fellow students,
had killed himself.
From these and other incidents Cor
concluded that people do make a difference. When people help each
other, and care about themselves, their environment and their
government, the good is contagious. It is only when people cease caring
about others, when fear overtakes compassion that a vacuum is created
and filled with evil. Cor has dedicated himself to making sure that no
such vacuum exists, and to teaching people that together we can make a
difference for good.
The 2,000 mile Holocaust trip was,
as Cor puts it, “just an appetizer.” This journey
and the knowledge that we can make a difference for the better by
working together for the common good, and that failing to do so leaves
the world open to hatred, corruption and dehumanization, has just
begun. It is, as Cor says, never to late to start making a difference.
Trust yourself, and do not succumb to fear and prejudice.
five step philosophy is a good starting point:
that the difference between good and evil is that
all people make mistakes, evil
people deny them.
Second, tell the truth and take
Three, do not lump an entire
make your own decisions and
five, acknowledge that we all have weaknesses that we must resist.
you are deciding to take action against the school bully,
organizing a protest against immoral actions undertaken by your
Cor’s five steps are relevant.
Evil triumphs when good men do nothing. Cor and others like him did
something and they defeated the greatest evil of their generation.
Today, Cor inspires us to be as good as we potentially can be. He, and
others like him, serves as a symbol of hope guiding us to follow our
better instincts. They give us a reason to believe in ourselves and in
our society. They affirm the value of the individual and his
to change society for the better. Cor and other inspiring figures
answer any doubts we might have about our ability to do well and to
make a difference by reminding us that we can do the right thing.
30 2008 Cor Suijk was speaker at the Tecumseh Junior High School in
child, Cor Suijk thought the world was a fair place: Good things happen
to good people and bad things to those who deserve them.
he was 19, however, the now 83-year-old learned this wasn't always the
case. He and his father were shopping in Amsterdam, the Netherlands,
when they saw Nazi soldiers and Dutch police round up and arrest all
the Jewish males out with their families in the city's main square.
"I can never remove that from my eyes," Suijk told the
Tecumseh Junior High School student body during a speech Monday. "The
women took off after the streetcars crying the names of their fathers,
brothers and sons."
When they got home, his father told his mother, "We must help
those people." .....
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at the Lafayette Journal and Courier website
from Michael Heinz/Journal & Courier
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