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Midshipmen Participate in American Service Academies Program

Posted on: June 04, 2014 08:00 EDT by Naval Academy Public Affairs

Midshipman 1st Class Andrea Howard and Midshipmen 2nd Class Nicholas Hermberg, Teresa Kennedy, and Marc Prather are among the fourteen cadets and midshipmen from the U.S. Military Academy, U.S. Naval Academy, U.S. Air Force Academy, and the U.S. Coast Guard Academy chosen by the Auschwitz Jewish Center Foundation (AJCF) to participate in the center’s American Service Academies Program this summer.

Through participating in the program, the cadets and midshipmen will learn how to examine history, become ambassadors of ethical behavior, and take responsibility for upholding these values as future military leaders.

Cadets and midshipmen began orientation in Washington, D.C. and visited the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. The students arrived in New York City June to attend additional training at the Museum of Jewish Heritage—A Living Memorial to the Holocaust before going on to Poland for two weeks. During this focused preparation, participants learned more about the Holocaust and contemporary moral and ethical matters, met with historians and staff members from the two museums, took part in workshops on military leadership, heard survivor testimony, and toured the institutions.

While in Poland, the participants will learn first-hand about the rich, vibrant life of Jews in pre-war Poland, especially in the town of Oświęcim (Auschwitz). Each student will meet with Polish and American leaders, visit historic Jewish sites, attend workshops with Holocaust survivors and historians, and visit and attend seminars at the Auschwitz-Birkenau camps, among other activities.

The immersive program in Oświęcim is designed to help future military leaders understand what can happen in the absence of open and democratic governance, the ongoing relevance of the Holocaust to their work, and inspire and empower them to share their insights and understanding with others.

“Genocide can still result from a breakdown of military leadership,” said Howard, who is majoring in Arabic and political science. “For this reason, current and future U.S. Armed Forces members must study the Holocaust. While the public may utter the words ‘Never Again,’ the responsibility for upholding this promise ultimately falls to people in uniform with the power to back it.”

This program has been supported in part by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, Inc. and Joan Felder in memory of Marvin Felder.

The Auschwitz Jewish Center is operated by the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust from the Museum’s New York City campus. The center opened its doors in 2000 and joined with the museum in 2006.  Located just three kilometers from the Auschwitz–Birkenau death camps, the center provides a place for individuals and groups from around the world to pray, study, and learn about the vibrancy of Jewish culture before the war, and memorialize victims of the Holocaust.  The only Jewish presence in the vicinity of Auschwitz, the center’s facilities include Oświęcim’s only surviving synagogue

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