Monday, April 15, 2013

Floor Speech: Commemorating Holocaust Day of Remembrance

Floor speech on the Joint Resolution Commemorating the Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine’s Legislative Awareness Day and Yom Hashoah, the Day of Remembrance presented by Representative Craig V. Hickman of Winthrop – April 10, 2013

And it came to pass in those days that Hitler died in his Berlin bunker. One week later, during the second week of May nineteen hundred and forty six, Nazi Germany surrendered unconditionally and the war in Europe ended.

In the first weeks of August, the United States dropped the atomic bomb on Nagasaki and Hiroshima and the Soviet Union declared war on Japan and invaded Manchuria. On the fourteenth day of August, Japan announced its surrender—so long as it could keep its emperor—and World War II, a most devastating war in terms of material destruction, global scale, and lives lost, ended.

My father, Hazelle Hickman, a Tuskegee Airman, fought in the war that ultimately liberated Jews from one of the most oppressive regimes in human history.

Yesterday, to my amazement and utter disbelief, we had a conversation about slavery and the Underground Railroad in Maine on the floor of the House of Representatives.

Today, we remember the Holocaust because we must never forget.

African Americans and American Jews have interacted throughout much of the history of this nation. The relationship has included widely publicized cooperation and sometimes conflict, and has been an area of significant academic research. The most significant aspect of the relationship was the cooperation during the civil rights movement, culminating in the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Every New Year’s eve, my father would slow cook a slab of kosher corned beef so tender you could cut it with a fork. My mother baked a delicious rugula with a crust so flaky no one could resist it.

My first pediatrician, Dr. Eli A. Gecht, was a Holocaust survivor.

This morning during caucus, I was alerted that a man wanted to talk to me. He is the Honorable Ed Benedikt of Brunswick and he may be the only Holocaust survivor in the chamber today. He was born in Austria in 1930. Eight years later, he escaped to England. He emigrated to the United States in 1943. In 1995 and 1996 he served in the 117th Legislature. His presence here today is a blessing.

Anti-Semitism, racism, bigotry and tyranny have no place in a free society.

I will close with a quote from James Baldwin, my favorite American author and one of the literary leaders of the civil rights movement.

“One must say YES to life and embrace it wherever it is found, and it is found in terrible places… For nothing is fixed; forever and forever, it is not fixed. The earth is always shifting, the light is always changing, the sea does not cease to grind down rock. Generations do not cease to be born and we are responsible to them because we are the only witnesses they have. The sea rises, the light fades, lovers cling to each other, and children cling to us. The moment we cease to hold each other, the moment we break faith with one another, the sea engulfs us, and the light goes out.”

Always treat one another with kindness.

Take care of your blessings.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker


HOUSE ADVANCE JOURNAL AND CALENDAR - Wednesday, April 10, 2013 Page 13

(4-1) On motion of Representative HICKMAN of Winthrop, the following Joint Resolution: (H.P. 986) (Cosponsored by Representatives: AYOTTE of Caswell, BEAR of the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, BEAUDOIN of Biddeford, BEAULIEU of Auburn, BEAVERS of South Berwick, BECK of Waterville, BENNETT of Kennebunk, BERRY of Bowdoinham, BLACK of Wilton, BOLAND of Sanford, BOLDUC of Auburn, BRIGGS of Mexico, BROOKS of Winterport, CAMPBELL of Newfield, CAMPBELL of Orrington, CAREY of Lewiston, CASAVANT of Biddeford, CASSIDY of Lubec, CHAPMAN of Brooksville, CHASE of Wells, CHENETTE of Saco, CHIPMAN of Portland, CLARK of Easton, COOPER of Yarmouth, COTTA of China, CRAFTS of Lisbon, CRAY of Palmyra, CROCKETT of Bethel, DAUGHTRY of Brunswick, DAVIS of Sangerville, DeCHANT of Bath, DEVIN of Newcastle, DICKERSON of Rockland, DILL of Old Town, DION of Portland, DOAK of Columbia Falls, DORNEY of Norridgewock, DUNPHY of Embden, DUPREY of Hampden, ESPLING of New Gloucester, EVANGELOS of Friendship, Speaker EVES of North Berwick, FARNSWORTH of Portland, FITZPATRICK of Houlton, FOWLE of Vassalboro, FREDETTE of Newport, FREY of Bangor, GATTINE of Westbrook, GIDEON of Freeport, GIFFORD of Lincoln, GILBERT of Jay, GILLWAY of Searsport, GOODE of Bangor, GRAHAM of North Yarmouth, GRANT of Gardiner, GUERIN of Glenburn, HAMANN of South Portland, HARLOW of Portland, HARVELL of Farmington, HAYES of Buckfield, HERBIG of Belfast, HOBBINS of Saco, HUBBELL of Bar Harbor, JACKSON of Oxford, JOHNSON of Eddington, JOHNSON of Greenville, JONES of Freedom, JORGENSEN of Portland, KAENRATH of South Portland, KENT of Woolwich, KESCHL of Belgrade, KINNEY of Limington, KNIGHT of Livermore Falls, KORNFIELD of Bangor, KRUGER of Thomaston, KUMIEGA of Deer Isle, KUSIAK of Fairfield, LAJOIE of Lewiston, LIBBY of Waterboro, LIBBY of Lewiston, LOCKMAN of Amherst, LONG of Sherman, LONGSTAFF of Waterville, LUCHINI of Ellsworth, MacDONALD of Old Orchard Beach, MacDONALD of Boothbay, MAKER of Calais, MALABY of Hancock, MAREAN of Hollis, MASON of Topsham, MASTRACCIO of Sanford, McCABE of Skowhegan, McCLELLAN of Raymond, McELWEE of Caribou, McGOWAN of York, McLEAN of Gorham, MITCHELL of the Penobscot Nation, MONAGHAN-DERRIG of Cape Elizabeth, MOONEN of Portland, MORIARTY of Cumberland, MORRISON of South Portland, NADEAU of Fort Kent, NADEAU of Winslow, NELSON of Falmouth, NEWENDYKE of Litchfield, NOON of Sanford, NUTTING of Oakland, PARRY of Arundel, PEASE of Morrill, PEAVEY HASKELL of Milford, PEOPLES of Westbrook, PETERSON of Rumford, PLANTE of Berwick, POULIOT of Augusta, POWERS of Naples, PRIEST of Brunswick, PRINGLE of Windham, RANKIN of Hiram, REED of Carmel, ROCHELO of Biddeford, ROTUNDO of Lewiston, RUSSELL of Portland, RYKERSON of Kittery, SANBORN of Gorham, SANDERSON of Chelsea, SAUCIER of Presque Isle, SAXTON of Harpswell, SCHNECK of Bangor, SHAW of Standish, SHORT of Pittsfield, SIROCKI of Scarborough, SOCTOMAH of the Passamaquoddy Tribe, STANLEY of Medway, STUCKEY of Portland, THERIAULT of Madawaska, TIMBERLAKE of Turner, TIPPING-SPITZ of Orono, TREAT of Hallowell, TURNER of Burlington, TYLER of Windham, VEROW of Brewer, VILLA of Harrison, VOLK of Scarborough, WALLACE of Dexter, WEAVER of York, WELSH of Rockport, WERTS of Auburn, WILLETTE of Mapleton, WILSON of Augusta, WINCHENBACH of Waldoboro, WINSOR of Norway, WOOD of Sabattus, Senators: President ALFOND of Cumberland, BOYLE of Cumberland, BURNS of Washington, CAIN of Penobscot, CLEVELAND of Androscoggin, COLLINS of York, CRAVEN of Androscoggin, CUSHING of Penobscot, DUTREMBLE of York, FLOOD of Kennebec, GERZOFSKY of Cumberland, GOODALL of Sagadahoc, GRATWICK of Penobscot, HAMPER of Oxford, HASKELL of Cumberland, HILL of York, JACKSON of Aroostook, JOHNSON of Lincoln, KATZ of Kennebec, LACHOWICZ of Kennebec, LANGLEY of Hancock, MASON of Androscoggin, MAZUREK of Knox, MILLETT of Cumberland, PATRICK of Oxford, PLUMMER of Cumberland, SAVIELLO of Franklin, SHERMAN of Aroostook, THIBODEAU of Waldo, THOMAS of Somerset, TUTTLE of York, VALENTINO of York, WHITTEMORE of Somerset, WOODBURY of Cumberland, YOUNGBLOOD of Penobscot)


WHEREAS, from 1933 to 1945, 6,000,000 Jews were murdered in the Holocaust as part of a state-sponsored, systematic persecution and annihilation program of genocide, and millions of other people suffered as victims of Nazism, such as the handicapped, political dissidents and many others for racial, ethnic or national reasons; and

WHEREAS, the people of the State of Maine should always remember the atrocities committed by the Nazis so that such horrors are never repeated and the history of the Holocaust offers an opportunity to reflect on the moral responsibilities of individuals, societies and governments; and

WHEREAS, the people of the State of Maine should always remember those who liberated the Nazi concentration camps, some of whom lost their lives and others of whom have experienced lifelong emotional suffering, as holding an honored place in our history; and

WHEREAS, the people of the State of Maine should continually rededicate themselves to the principle of equal justice for all people, remain eternally vigilant against all tyranny and recognize that bigotry provides a breeding ground for tyranny to flourish; and

WHEREAS, the national community, pursuant to an Act of Congress, will be commemorating the week of April 7 through April 14, 2013 as the Days of Remembrance of the Victims of the Holocaust, including the Day of Remembrance, known as Yom HaShoah, April 8, 2013; and

WHEREAS, it is appropriate for the people of the State of Maine to join in this international commemoration and April 10, 2013 has been designated as the Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine's Legislative Awareness Day; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED: That We, the Members of the One Hundred and Twenty-sixth Legislature now assembled in the First Regular Session, on behalf of the people we represent, pause in solemn memory of the victims of the Holocaust and in honor of the survivors, rescuers and liberators, urge everyone to recommit themselves to the lessons of the Holocaust through the Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine's Legislative Awareness Day and the international week of commemoration and express our common desire to continually strive to overcome prejudice and inhumanity through education, vigilance and resistance; and be it further

RESOLVED: That suitable copies of this resolution, duly authenticated by the Secretary of State, be transmitted to the Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine and the United States Holocaust Memorial Council in Washington, D.C. on behalf of the people of the State of Maine.

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