A prayer vigil for the Charlottesville victims was held at Cornerstone Assembly of God in Hampton on Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017.
I am writing to you as a 75-year-old white woman who was a public high school world history teacher for 35 years in Baltimore County. When I taught WWII and the Holocaust, my major goal was to guide my students to their understanding of how fragile democracy can be and how quickly it can disappear. My students were always stunned to learn that it took only a dozen years between the time that Hitler took office and the war ended with Europe lying in ruins with millions dead and millions more displaced from their homes.
As the events of the past eight months have transpired culminating with the tragic days in Charlottesville, Va. this past weekend, I have decided that I can no longer remain silent or complicit in the erosion of our democracy. I am reminded of two quotations I used when I taught. The first is an adaptation from a statement by Pastor Niemoller, a Lutheran minister living in Hitler's Germany who said
"First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me."
The second is a quote of Elie Wiesel who declared "Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented".
I have lived through turbulent times but I never thought I would hear the highest public official in our nation empower the hatefulness of white supremacy and bigotry. Evil must be called out by name when it is heard!
To those of you who have already stood firm in your denunciation of the racism, intolerance, extremism and hatred coming from the President of the United States, I salute you for your courage. To those of you who have not yet done so, I beg you to remember the words you speak when saying the pledge to the flag. Please act upon them now for the present and future sake of this great country.