MIDN 1/C Scott Collard
Spending time during the ASAP program put me as close as one can get to the history of the events by seeing the places and meeting the victims. I had to come to terms with the fact that human beings willingly did this to one another. A military carried out the orders of its country. It became paramount for me as a future officer in the military to not only develop my character to stand against such injustice. As officers and members of the military, we are much more than one step in a chain of command. We are individual thinkers who put our character and values before ourselves and our wants. We have the obligation to stand against injustice when we see it.
The ASAP program made some of the problems of the world real for me, genocide and hatred, as well as the power of the human mind to do good or evil. The trip has shown me how to understand these killers that we write off as "mad-men" or simply "the enemy." This force was made up of young men and women who joined the military to defend their homeland. These people were horribly affected by the immense power of propaganda, as well as the strong power of military authority. At the Naval Academy we are taught ethics and the moral responsibilities of an officer, especially during times of combat and stress. These lessons are some of the most important things our education has to offer.
After two weeks of traveling around Poland and visiting the concentration camps and meeting the victims, I realized the power of the human spirit. The amazing men and women that survived the Holocaust and spoke to us have changed my life forever. These people had their lives, families, even entire communities stripped from them and destroyed before their eyes. Generations of their family were wiped out in a period of months. And yet these powerful people fought back, survived, and continued to live wonderful and fulfilling lives. Their positive outlook and hope for the future was a gift that has inspired and transformed how I feel. I came back with the simple, yet difficult advice from one speaker. "Speak up! When you see injustice." These words have stuck with me, and are now the foundation as I continue to learn and shape my character both in life and in the military.