What's the big idea?
But what if we could all walk together on the same day worldwide? And what better day than the one set aside in Israel (Yom HaShaoh) to remember six million Jews, and another five million Gentiles, who were cruelly and senselessly murdered in a systematic way by the Nazis?
This is the concept behind March of Remembrance, where people in communities worldwide can walk together to remember the Shoah (Holocaust) in a public way. We do this to honor those who died, to educate those who are alive today, to remember the lessons that the German national-socialist regime (Anacronym: NAZI) wrought in the 1930s, and to engage layers of society around us today.
As I toured around America in 2008 telling the story of the March of Life in Europe, many congregations were moved by the story and wanted a way of "breaking the veil of silence" concerning anti-semitism in their own local communities.
The terrorist attacks of November 26, 2008 in Mumbai India targeted the Chabad (Jewish) leaders of the city, who were sadistically tortured before being murdered. This seemed to send a chill into Jewish communities worldwide. Though we weren't sure there was a connection, the Dallas Jewish community seemed to cancel their outdoor Yom HaShoah observances for 2009 unexplainably. My dear and close friend, Zaki Shapiro, was upset by this news because his mother was of only a few survivors from Lithuania's Holocaust, where 95% of Jews were murdered in only a few months. Zaki asked if Pastor Bittner would come to Dallas to help us have our own prayer walk through the city, and the March of Remembrance was born. As I told this story in cities where I was touring, another 8 cities of the USA became charter members.
The following year, 25 cities had joined from cities of North and South America, so we took this public observance to Washington D.C. and got permits to hold our remembrance ceremony on the front lawn of Congress with 3 Shoah Survivors: Paul Argiewicz, Peter Loth, and David Goldkorn. We began by praying in front of the White House and the Washington Monument, then began walking along the National Mall to the Capitol Building were we had prepared a stage and sound system for the honored Shoah survivors to speak.
After the prayer walk we held a special celebration at Immanuel's Church in Silver Spring MD, (Senior Pastors Charles and Dotty Schmidt are also of German descent) to receive an offering to help Shoah survivors who are still alive and struggling today, through Helping Hand Coalition in Israel.
Every year since, more and more cities worldwide join the March of Remembrance to observe and remember Yom HaShaoh through honoring local survivors and their descendants who were oppressed in the Holocaust.