December 24, 2017In 2017 I had the opportunity to visit Poland. While in Poland I was able to visit Auschwitz, the famous Nazi concentration camp. While this is a powerful and dark reminder for anyone who cares about religious freedom, I think for me it held an even more significant historical importance. My next door neighbor while growing up had not only been to this place, she had the numeric tattoo to prove it. I felt I needed to go see this dark place to try and understand what it must have been like for her. While I had read the stories and understood what happened in this place, I was not prepared for the sheer size and expanse of a facility that was dedicated to evil. While I thought about the images I was seeing and trying to relate the stories I heard from my neighbor I realized just how special the United States is and how lucky we are to have a culture free from religious persecution. I was also struck by the notion of just how important it is to celebrate our chosen religion. I remember how proud she was to wish us a Happy Chanukah and how she always smiled back as we wished her a Merry Christmas. This seasonal exchange of warmth, compassion and love is one of my favorite memories around Christmas. I have always remembered to share this seasonal greeting with those that are important to me, so let me wish all my neighbors and friends a very Merry Christmas, a Happy Chanukah and a safe and prosperous new year.
Mayor - City of Mantorville