The day was November 11, 2015 when the respectable Morris Glass visited Leesville Road High School, once again, to share his remarkable story.
“No movie in God’s name could duplicate my emotions” said Mr. Glass during his speech, and no article or review I write could ever duplicate the power of Mr. Glass’s words.
Morris Glass is a Holocaust survivor. When 11 years old, he became a victim of genocide, solely because he was Jewish.
Many high school students have studied the Holocaust, read the biographies, and researched the history. But, one can not describe the feeling when Mr. Glass first explained his experience seeing a baby thrown to the ground and killed, stating it with a pain in his voice, as if he was seeing it happen the first time. After this moment, a new understanding of the Holocaust was created in the minds and hearts of the audience.
Most students in the audience put down their hidden phones, stiffened their posture and listened to Mr. Glass with sustained respect.
Mr. Glass, a few minutes into his speech, said, “For the first time, I lost my will to go on…”. This moment captivated the audience because every single person in the room knew that they were incapable of relating to his emotions.
But, as Mr. Glass explained how he overcame his exhaustion, I understood why Mr. Glass, after all these years, still shares his story. “I had never lost my faith,” said Mr. Glass to the audience and after a long pause he stated, “…and that’s why I am here today.”
Mr. Glass doesn’t come to speak to students and teachers to educate them on the history of the Holocaust, he comes to share the importance of faith and self-reliance to a generation that seems to be oblivious to its power.
I had some students in the audience record their reactions to his words and their emotions while listening to his story. The students’ initial reaction to Mr. Glass’s story were along the lines of shocked, overwhelmed and incapable of wrapping their heads around the true facts of the genocide. But, there was a noticeable change in the minds of students as Mr. Glass’s speech continued. Some of the reactions included: “what kept him alive was family and faith… amazed that those were the two simple things most important…”, “faith enables you to endure suffering…” and “Mr. Glass’s story will stay with me forever.”
Many students, just like I, cleared their minds of all temporary importances like tests, drama, hatred and stress–and were capable of looking at life’s bigger picture, a cognitive self realization.
“Never forget the Holocaust,” said Mr. Glass as he concluded his speech. The Holocaust ruined the lives of millions of Jewish people and striped the few survivors of all of their possessions, family, heritage and pride.
Mr. Glass was asked by a student in Mrs. Cade’s Holocaust and Genocide class: “What was one thing you wished you left the genocide with?”
Mr. Glass paused a moment and closed his eyes. After a few moments he looked to the crowd and said, “I wish… I wish I had a picture of my family…” Mr. Glass lost his mother and sister in the separation of women and men, and watched the Nazi soldiers kill his father in daylight for his gold crowns, ripping out his father’s teeth while his dad was dying but still alive.
“Please do something for me,” said Mr. Glass to the audience. “Go home, hug and kiss your siblings–tell them you love them. Hug and kiss your parents–tell them you love them…. Do it for me. I wish I had the chance.”
The audience applauded Mr. Glass as he sat down after his speech. Mr. Glass taught students and staff a lesson that they had not been expecting when first walking through the auditorium doors. He offered a break from the “hardships” of our own realities and allowed every soul in the auditorium to grasp the true beauty of life–living everyday, safe, loved and free. Also realize the true evils in life– like chance, hatred, anger and heartlessness. But most importantly–the meaning of life. Which is up to every individual to decide for themselves, whether it’s through faith, love, passion, family or hope.