Just Remembering Doesn't Equate to 'Never Again
"Schindler's List" was destined to win the Oscar as movie of the year just as its director, Steven Spielberg, was destined to be recognized as director of the year. Unfortunately, Mr. Spielberg cannot take much comfort in this recognition in that the acclaim comes not so much as a result of his abilities as a director, which are indeed great, but from the subject matter of the movie -- the unforgettable Holocaust.
Except for that small group of revisionists, some of whom even foolishly deny the Holocaust's occurrence, who among us has the courage to suggest that a movie about the Holocaust was just another movie about the Holocaust? You would have a hard time recalling any production or any publication concerning the Holocaust which was described as mediocre or something less.
We have had an obsession with the Holocaust that, in my opinion, has had no historical comparisons. Perhaps our domestic attention/coverage of the Civil War comes close but that comparison is only one of quantity, not quality. It's a comparison in the number of museums.
Invariably the reason for being, the purpose, the focus of all Holocaust memories is the "never again" aspect.
"No one can fix the past; that's already happened. But a picture like this can impact on us, delivering a mandate about what must never happen again," said Spielberg about his movie. And Ben Kingsley, who plays one of the Jewish workers saved by Oskar Schindler, says: "This period of history must be retold to every generation. I'm afraid if we don't, whatever year this film appeared, it would be relevant somewhere in the world."
Unfortunately and tragically, both of these men must be nothing less than ignorant about post-World War II history. Overlooking the fact that the term "Holocaust" has been taken into custody by the Jewish community, one could proceed at considerable length describing the holocausts that have occurred since 1945 in practically every corner of the earth.
It seems to me that if Mr. Spielberg, his fellow directors and other "giants" of the media were sincerely interested in the "never again" aspect of which they so often speak, they would address more recent tragedies in which the United States has played a dominant, supporting role and from which there is much more to learn.
There is no doubt, for example, that if citizens of the United States were as informed about the events that
occurred in El Salvador during the 1980s as they are about the events that occurred in Germany during the 1940s, we would be much closer to understanding that just remembering has not and will not equate to "never again."
Within the next couple of months, ABC-TV along with possibly the other major television networks will be broadcasting documentaries from Vietnam. Also, a fact-finding mission is again traveling to Southeast Asia in search of answers to the Prisoner Of War/Missing In Action question. It is quite possible that these two endeavors are related.
It is the hope of the POW/MIA activists that for once, the truth about our POW/MIAs will finally be revealed, that some of our nation's captive war heroes will be released. But I am apprehensive, to say the least.
There is the possibility, though, that through research for the documentaries some fact might be revealed that will finally light a fire in the hearts of my fellow Americans -- a "fire" that will inspire them to demand that our government admit the mistakes of the past and do whatever is necessary to gain the release of our nation's greatest heroes.
For those of us who have returned in search of our POWs and know beyond a doubt of their existence, that would be a dream come true. But more importantly, it would at last give the families of our POW/MIAs the finality from doubt that they deserve; after years of agony, lies and pain, to put Vietnam behind them. That is all that we in "The Live POW Lobby" have been working for. The POWs and MIAs cry for that justice, as do all of the families of the POW/MIAs from World War II through the present. The deception has been since the end of W.W. II.
If, however, this is just another "whitewash," you were forewarned. There is a voice inside of me that warns, "They have brought out the 'big guns.' " This will be the final effort to bury the POW/MIA issue. Once done, we can normalize relations with Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. That way, big business can, once again, have its way. . . . Either way, "we will not abandon them."
Richard F. Will Sr.