Inspired by Pollster.com’s post This is Personal
Pop was having none of it. He walked away from me and wandered up to the museum staffer standing at the head of the long line leading to the elevators that takes all visitors to the museum exhibits. I thought for a moment that Pop was going to ask directions. I was wrong.
He thrust out his arm in the direction of the staffer, displaying the number the Nazis tattooed on his arm at Auschwitz just a few inches from her face. Without making eye-contact and barely breaking stride, Pop kept walking. Understandably, the staffer barely blinked. She didn’t make a move to stop him.
Pop kept walking right into the elevator that had just filled with the visitors that had been waiting in that long line. And even though the elevator was already quite crowded, he walked right in. Jake and I had to run past the guard to catch up. “Pop, Pop,” I said, feeling a little embarrassed, hoping to talk him into at least waiting for the next elevator.
The staffer inside the elevator must have heard me, because he smiled, held the door and said with smile, “We have room for Pop. You guys too. C’mon in.”
And up we went. I have been to the Holocaust Museum many times, but none as memorable as that visit.
About a month ago, in a conscious effort to carry on her father’s tradition and to commemorate his birthday, my wife Helen paid her own solo visit to the Museum. She arrived at the end of a busy work day, in a rush, just a few minutes before closing time. Unfortunately, given the late hour, they had run out of the candles usually provided in the Hall of Remembrance for visitors to light and leave in the niches of the outer walls.
Already feeling emotional — her dad had passed away just six months before — she broke down sobbing.
A staffer nearby immediately came to her assistance, asking if she needed help. She explained, and the gentleman asked her to wait. He soon returned with a candle, explaining with a conspiratorial wink that he kept his own special supply for such emergencies.
The guards and staff at the Holocaust Museum have a special duty. The do more than just protect and operate one of Washington’s many heavily trafficked museums. On a daily basis, they help open the doors to the elderly survivors of the atrocities of World War II. As my stories attest, they do it with a remarkable degree of kindness and professionalism.
As far as I know, the Holocaust Museum personnel that we encountered were not armed guards, though it is possible they were. But when I heard about the shooting this afternoon, and more specifically that at least one of the victims is a security guard now apparently in critical condition, it struck very close to home.
This is personal.
As far as I am concerned, the staff members of the Holocaust Museum are part of our family and the Museum itself is hallowed ground, and we pray for the recovery of the wounded guard. “Never take your guard force and security people for granted,” William Parsons, the museum’s chief of staff said on television a few minutes ago. Our family never will.
A very sad update: MSNBC just reported that the guard, Officer Steven Tyrone Johns, has passed away. We are all mourners tonight.
UPDATE: As usual, Pam nails it. Check below the jump for a visit to last year’s wingnut charade as it played out during the Presidential election and after.