Not an original thought. Millions have experienced the same thing before me. Somehow, though, I was unprepared.
I visited the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC with my family on Monday. I wound through the exhibits, reading of Hitler’s rise to power, of the complicity of Germany, of Europe, of the whole world, toward this growing evil.
I read of whole communities murdered, looked at pictures of young people who would never grow up, never have families of their own. I looked over the maps and the models and read the awful statistics.
And then I came to the shoes.
Thousands of shoes – a tiny fraction of the whole, but each shoe a token. A woman’s shoe, curling back with age. A man’s shoe, dark and crinkled. A child’s shoe, carelessly tossed into the pile. A child’s shoe. Someone loved that child once, someone tried to protect that child. That child held a hand once, gave one last squeeze, one final questioning look. And then rough hands took hold.
And I stood in a room, surrounded by shoes, and I cried.