Thank you. Mr. Secretary-General, Mr. President of the General Assembly, Your Excellency Mr. Ehud Barak, Professor Weitzman, Holocaust Survivors and Families, it is a privilege to be with you today on behalf of the United States.
I am especially honored to be here with many Holocaust survivors. It is more important than ever that we hear their testimony.
It is fitting that we are gathered at this institution, founded in a world devastated by conflict, whose founding values and Universal Declaration of Human Rights pledge to stand against the cruelty that led to the Shoah.
We have a particular responsibility to remember the United Nations’ founding commitments.
In this Hall, we are all responsible for ensuring that the horrors of the Holocaust are remembered and that its lessons are passed from generation to generation. And we are all responsible for acting upon them.
My own country has placed the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum near our National Mall, building an institution dedicated to memory and action near the great gathering place that honors Lincoln and houses our Bill of Rights. President Obama has spoken at Buchenwald about our responsibility, quote, to “ensure that ‘never again’ isn’t an empty slogan, or merely an aspiration, but also a call to action.”
Today, we remember the sorrows of the past. And today, we are called to ensure that they never happen again.
We remember men who were dragged from their homes, walled into ghettoes, starved and beaten, and killed by firing squads and in factories of death.
We remember children who were murdered for no other reason than having been born Jewish.
And we remember women marked out for death who showed extraordinary courage and compassion during history’s cruelest hours.
We remember Hannah Szenes, a 23-year-old Hungarian poet, trained by the British Army as a parachuter. When she was captured by the Nazis, she refused a blindfold and stared at her executioners.
We remember Gisi Fleischmann of Slovakia, who bribed corrupt officials to save Jewish lives, refusing numerous opportunities to escape. She was murdered at Auschwitz in 1944.
We remember Marianne Cohn, a young French woman who smuggled Jewish children to Switzerland. She was seized by a Nazi patrol with a group of 28 children in her care.
She later had a chance to escape from prison but refused to abandon the children. She was murdered at the age of 20.
We remember those whose names we will never know. And we remember the bitter fates of these innocents, so we may always challenge ourselves to act. We must stand up to the demagogues, the preachers of division, and those who deny the plain facts of history.
Together, let us join the imperative of memory with the courage and compassion to act.
Together, let us remember all who suffered and perished in the Shoah.
Together, let us never forget.
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