(Pictured left: Mara Krasilchikov, my grandmother, before the war; Right: Mara, her mother Dora, and father Samuel before the war.)

by Michelle Kras

Every day, it’s a challenge to wake up and to be grateful for all that I have. I’ve been blessed with a loving home, an above average education, friends I hold close to my heart, and incredible, life changing experiences. Yet, I start my mornings thinking about how tired I am, because I wasted my time the night before watching YouTube videos, or cramming for the test I procrastinated studying for. I grow agitated waiting for the water to heat up for a shower, messing up my makeup, or misplacing my keys.

Yet, all of these annoyances are luxuries.

On this Saturday’s International Holocaust Remembrance Day, I try to remind myself of all that I am grateful for. I look back on my family’s history, and aim to even attempt to understand the sense of gruesome survival, miserable loss, and the physical and mental suffering they were forced to withstand through the war.   

My grandmother, only five years old at the start of the Holocaust, had to watch her father drafted into the Soviet military, only to disappear in action. Her uncle was ratted out for being Jewish, and hung. Her infant brother, small cousin, and grandfather were shot outside the ghetto she and her remaining family were forced to reside in, as her grandfather held the two boys like Torah scrolls. She had to endure Nazis spilling boiling water over her, and laughing. Being flung off a Nazi truck by her mother to avoid being carted off to a Concentration Camp, and running into the nearby Belarusian woods as Nazis shot at them, probably wasn’t the most horrifying ordeal they had to push through.

This is hardly a comprehensive list.

On this day, I want to acknowledge the pain of the Holocaust, and how the suffering still echoes into 2018, 73 years after the end of the war. As a direct descendant of survivors, I remember. I remember because to remember is to fight back against those who spread sorrow and torment like a disease. I remember because I’m not afraid to say, “never again”.

I’m grateful for my daily annoyances. I’m thankful for all that I have, because I remember.

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