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President Obama Issues Statement and Speech for US National Days of Remembrance


The United States commemorated the National Days of Remembrance from 15-22 April 2012.

The Days of Remembrance of the Victims of the Holocaust is an annual 8-day period designated by the United States Congress for civic commemorations and special educational programs that help citizens remember and draw lessons from the Holocaust.  The United States Congress established the Days of Remembrance as the nation's annual commemoration in 1980 and created the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) as a permanent living memorial to the victims.

The annual Days of Remembrance coincides with the date of Yom Hashoah.  A National Civic Commemoration is held in Washington, D.C., and remembrance activities are observed around the country by state and local governments, military bases, workplaces, schools, churches, synagogues, and civic centers.  The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum designates a theme for each year's program and provides materials to help support remembrance efforts.

The 2012 Days of Remembrance Ceremony was held at the US Capitol Rotunda on 19 April 2012.  Since 1982, the USHMM has organized and led the national Days of Remembrance ceremony with Holocaust survivors, liberators, members of Congress, White House officials, the diplomatic corps, and community leaders in attendance.  Video from the 2012 ceremony is available here.

The 2012 theme for the commemoration activities is "Choosing to Act: Stories of Rescue."  This theme explores the stories of courageous citizens across Europe who acted to rescue Jews during World War II.  Further information and resources on this theme are available from the USHMM.

President Obama issued a statement in commemoration of Yom Hashoah on 19 April 2012.  In his statement Obama said that, "We must resolve that 'never again' is more than an empty slogan.  As individuals, we must guard against indifference in our hearts and recognize ourselves in our fellow human beings.  As societies, we must stand against ignorance and anti-Semitism, including those who try to deny the Holocaust.  As nations, we must do everything we can to prevent and end atrocities in our time."

President Obama also delivered a speech on 23 April at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum for the National Days of Remembrance.  The introductory address was given by Elie Wiesel.  In his remarks, President Obama stated that, "We must tell our children.  But more than that, we must teach them.  Because remembrance without resolve is a hollow gesture.  Awareness without action changes nothing.  In this sense, 'never again' is a challenge to us all -- to pause and to look within."  The full text of President Obama's speech is available from the White House, and video of the event can be accessed via C-SPAN.