Thanksgiving is a time for memories — of our childhood, family, and friends. It is also a time to be grateful for the many blessings we have and to give thanks and share with those who are less fortunate than we are. Today, one cannot help but be aware of the plight of those less fortunate, who are children of conflict, famine, disease, and little hope. As Americans, we must open our hearts and our doors to these refugees. (See: “Does this #Refugee Look Like an Undesirable to be Sent Home?”)
This week, I received a Facebook post from a friend, Charlie Sanders, who is an attorney, president of Song Writers Guild of America, and who served on the board of WhyHunger. It is the story of his cousin who died at Auschwitz as a young child who was not able to emigrate to America. Hons Fischl was a true Diplomat Artist. His drawing now hangs in a museum at Terezin. He is Diplomat Artist’s Thanksgiving message and card to all who espouse to a higher compassion and commitment to their fellow man and creation. (Also see: Diplomacy & Art.)
Following is Charlie Sanders’ post in its entirety:
This is a drawing done by my cousin Hons Fischl in April, 1944 at Terezin. He was a member of the unfortunate branch of my family that remained in Prague rather than emigrating to America in the 19th Century. Hons had been asked to draw a picture of where he would rather be than in a concentration camp, and he drew a beach ball that any ten year old might imagine could be found on the Mediterranean coast off Tel Aviv, or at the Atlantic shores of Florida, waiting for him. The picture remains in the museum at Terezin, one of the first things you see as you enter there. Hons does not.
He died at Auschwitz Birkenau on October 6, 1944. Because there was nowhere else for him to go. NOWHERE.
Sixty six years later, Hons was bar mitzvah’d in absentia, adopted in spirit by my son Jackson Sanders as he took his own place in the community. But that would be cold comfort to a ten year old little boy who just once wanted to hold that beach ball in the sun. I wish we could have done more for him. We couldn’t. It was too late.
But you know what? I will be damned if I am going to allow one more child to die because that child has no place to go, whether he or she is from Darfur, or Cambodia, or Syria, or Armenia, or Prague, or anywhere else where mass murder stalks innocents.
An irrational fear of terrorism is not going to keep me from DEMANDING that the United States accept refugee children in order to protect their lives from genocidal maniacs. History demands that we not make the same mistakes again, and I do not want to hear that “the Jews were a different case.” Because we were not. We were children crying out in the night in terror. And I intend to insist that we answer that call. We will deal with the vetting of terrorists, and all the other issues that come with it, but humanity comes first, ahead of fear.
The memory of Hons Fischl, and all those others like him, demand it of us. And we goddamn well had better demand it of ourselves.
And that it what Thanksgiving is all about.
(More stories at Diplomat Artist Category Archives: Cultural Diplomacy)