Iowa Holocaust Memorial Dedication
I was honored to attend the dedication of the Iowa Holocaust Memorial in Des Moines on Wednesday, October 23. The idea for the project formed several years ago when Judy Blank, executor of the Jacqueline and Myron Blank Foundation, learned that Iowa was one of only five states without a memorial to the Holocaust. Now that has changed and the dream of a memorial has come true.
Over 200 people from across the state of Iowa came to the dedication. The keynote speaker was Dr. Ann Millin, a historian from the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC. She shared how an object, like the memorial, can stir up memories as well as offer information about the past.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Des Moines took an active hand in the project. Mark Finkelstein, Community Relations Director for the Federation, compared the memorial to "a song for all Iowans, harmonized by the voices of our diverse people, with words reflecting aspects of the Iowa experience, and it's time for Iowans to earn this new song."
Mr. Finkelstein received information about my writing project recently. On stage he honored many of the subjects of A BOOK by ME projects; Mr. Art Hilmo(Davenport, Iowa) who skied Jews and other refugees from a small village in occupied Norway into the safety of Sweden. Mr. Hilmo is a Righteous Gentile whose story was documented by Reece and Riley Bowman of Moline in a book entitled A Secret Journey. Another story honored was the story of Eugene Parmer of Maquoketa, Iowa. As a brave liberator, Eugene shot the lock off one of the gates of Dachau Concentration Camp. His story was documented by Amanda DeVilder of East Moline in her book entitled A True American Liberator.
Other stories from the book series mentioned on stage were the Anne Frank Iowa pen pal (Ocean's Apart) and Jewish Holocaust Survivor Francis Shnurman who immigrated to Des Moines after the war (Against All Odds).
Governor Terry Branstad, Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds, and several members of Iowa's legislature attended the dedication. I was especially touched to hear the stories of of Eugene Parmer and Art Hilmo mentioned at this historic event with high ranking officials. Thanks to my young authors, their stories (along with Francis Shnurman's story, the Anne Frank / Iowa connection and many more) will not be forgotten.