Sunday, March 9, 2008

A night I won't forget

I regularly reserve books online from the library's website and a month or so ago I saw that the homepage advertised that Stephen Nasser was coming to speak on March 4th. No, I had never heard of him either, but his book "My Brother's Voice" was also displayed on the web page. I read the description, found that there was an available copy, and before I knew it I was engrossed in his story. Mr. Nasser is a Hungarian Jew, who at just 14 years old was liberated from Hitler's holocaust. I have never met a holocaust survivor before. Anyone who does the simple math can tell that soon there won't be any left to meet.

First, his book... I can't say, "it's good" because it's not. It's horrific. I had to read it with a box of tissues nearby. The events that surrounded his childhood can't be paralleled with words. I pray that our world never again knows such evil, but even as I type these words, I know that less publicized horrors are happening in places such as Darfur. Mr. Nasser witnessed the murders of several of his family members (including his baby cousin), and was subjected to the horrors of Auschwitz. After getting shipped out to a work camp, he nearly starved to death and held his older brother in his arms and watched him succumb to death.

I feel a responsibility to our world and especially to those who suffered through the holocaust to hear stories like these. My family and friends and I live such a blessed and charmed life of freedom and prosperity that I must make myself aware of those that don't. I guess that ties into my heart for orphans too... having compassion makes me appreciate life more.


Kenyon happened to be out of town when Mr. Nasser was to speak, and I almost didn't go. Childcare was going to be an issue, but my friend Christa generously allowed me to drop the boys off at her house so I could go. I'm glad I did.


I already knew a lot of what he told he audience, many of them had not yet read his book. But, some of what he said was not in his book - and he was inspiring. He spoke of freedom and how it isn't free. He said that whether or not you agree with our military involvements at any given moment, you must have an appreciation for our brave soldiers who go wherever and whenever they are told to. They are ready and willing to sacrifice the greatest possession any of us have... LIFE. He thanks God every day for the brave American and allied soldiers, who played a role in his liberation and ending the war. I'm proud to say that my Grandpa August Possehl was one of those brave men. He's still fighting today, in his 80's, but luckily, he's fighting weeds in his garden in Atlanta.


After living through the nightmare, Mr. Nasser holds life as precious. Any life. He reminded us that people are created in different colors, creeds and ability levels, but all are precious. He has witnessed firsthand calloused murders by Hitler's henchmen and the helplessness and despair that starvation and physical labor not fit for animals brings. His message: CELEBRATE LIFE, CHERISH LIFE. It is precious. Respect each other and love one another. I was also struck by the fact that he doesn't question why God allowed him to go through it. He refers to God as his, "best buddy" (imagine it said with a thick Hungarian accent) and has an amazing faith that has withstood more than anyone else I know has endured.


During the question and answer time, a young girl in the front asked a couple of insightful questions, I would guess she was about ten years old. She was obviously touched by his story, as was evident by her battle with her tears. Afterward, she waited in the long line of people who were waiting to meet him and get his autograph or picture. She stood in front of me in line and when he shook her hand, she tearfully whispered something into his ear and then handed him a cough drop because he had an obvious tickle in his throat during his speech. She was precious and it was so good to see the next generation changed by history.

5 comments:

Natalie said...

Oh, wow. I hear you about feeling like it's a responsibility (not a bad one) to learn these people's stories and know more about the horrors they endured. I'm definitely going to read his book.

Go Fisch said...

Not to sound shallow but you look fabulous in this picture. Very glamorous!!

Tanja said...

I ENJOYED reading your blog! The boys are so very cute! Cool!
Miss you!
Keep in touch!
Tanja

Anonymous said...

My sweet Laurie,
I am ever impressed by your ability to express in words such emotion, that we all would feel if witness to a testimonial such as you heard from this dear gentleman.
Thank you for being there for all of us, and having the opportunity to thank him for his belief in the goodness of mankind despite the horror that he experienced. You have a great gift and heart. I love you. Love, Mom

Jessalyn said...

I am going to read it too.

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