Inspired by Youth

I was recently reminded of an earlier story wherein a high school student inspired  our post to be more active in our community.  That one student created a lot of enthusiasm among the members.  Here we were thinking that we were leading the way to patriotism when the student was out in front of us!


This past month we came in contact with a young lady in our community that inquired about local events commemorating the 70th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz.  She contacted our post because of our speakers bureau.  “Are local veterans involved in a commemorative ceremony?” she asked.  We knew of nothing to remember Auschwitz in January.


Here was a young lady asking the infamous second question, “Why not?”  We helped her get in contact with the right people, provided information on what could be done, and promised to help advertise an event, if it became a reality.  We also promised to help get some local veterans to join in. 


How did it go?  Was she successful?  It went very well.  She managed to work with the Chapel Hill Holocaust Speakers Bureau (it has a new name now (learn more)) and others to make it happen and on January 26th, 2015, Chapel Hill remembered the 70th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz at The Cedars Retirement Community in Meadowmont.   Read story


VFW Chapel Hill Post 9100 and the American Legion of Chapel Hill provided veterans.  Robert Patton’s wife, Helen, attended with her sister Pat McDonald.  Robert’s son drove them.  Jim Mackorell also attended and shared his post war stories of visiting concentration camps in Germany.  Edward Gill and his wife also attended and brought along a special guest on behalf of the American Legion. There were several other local veterans from both posts.


The American Legion recently lost a member, Richard Romano.  At a memorial service for him, we met a friend of his and a survivor of Auschwitz, Rebecca Hauser.  Rebecca and her daughter, Bonnie, also attended.


Rebecca was able to honor her lost family and villagers by lighting a candle of remembrance.  As we watched Rebecca light the candle, we could see the impact the candle lighting had on her.  It was a blessing, a blessing to be able to bring their story, the story of her Greek village to light again. 


One person, through a single unselfish act, had affected the lives of many in our community.  For her efforts, our post salutes Ms. Amanda Garfinkle.  Her drive and perseverance made the Auschwitz commemorative event a very special event for three local holocaust survivors.




Amanda enters Auschwitz
Amanda enters Auschwitz

The 70th  anniversary of Auschwitz’ liberation has special meaning for Amanda. 


Amanda visited Europe last Fall.  Her journey took her near Auschwitz and she decided to make a pilgrimage.   


It was time for her to walk where thousands perished.  So, she bought a train ticket and made the five to six hour train trip to Auschwitz.  She had an interest in the holocaust while growing up and often thought about how fortunate she was that her family left that part of the world when they did.  If not, she might have been one of the millions of unborn souls that were to be the descendents of those killed.


Her grandfathers both served during World War II.  One, Aaron Schultz, served in the U.S. Army Air Corps as an armourer in the U.S. 389th Group, 8th Air Force.  He devised a modification to bomb bay doors that prevented the locking pins from engaging unless the bomb door creep was excessive.  The modification was made to all B-24 Liberators in the 389th Group in March 1944 and was then approved for all 8th Air Force B-24’s.  He was awarded the Bronze Star.




– Lee Heavlin


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