With sunshine breaking through the scudding clouds, brisk wind whipping jackets and hoods, a crowd of young and old community members gathers for a ceremony dedicating a very special memorial in downtown New Meadows.
A year ago, vandals defaced the Boise Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial with racist and anti-Semitic slurs. When Meadows Valley students in teacher Devon Barker-Hick’s seventh-grade class heard about the damage, they were horrified and resolved to do something positive in response. They had already been studying the Holocaust and reading The Diary of Anne Frank. Learning how to stand up to bigotry and hate – and the vandalism of the Boise memorial was deemed a hate crime by the Boise police – the students wanted to make a lasting statement that would inspire others to also take a stand.
A year later, they’ve succeeded. Spectacularly. With today’s ribbon cutting, Dorsey Warr Memorial Park in New Meadows is officially home to a Holocaust/WWII Memorial with an inspiring quote from Anne Frank.
Now in eighth grade, the students responsible for creating the memorial stand proudly under a tent to one side of the podium while the Meadows Valley band sits ready to play under a tent on the other side. After an opening song by the band, Barker-Hicks provides introductions and a brief history of what prompted the memorial. She says she is inspired by Holocaust survivor Marion Blumenthal Lazan who urges us all to remember that the Holocaust happened, to share stories about the Holocaust with our children and grandchildren so they will learn, and to be kind to one another. Students Kohn Haynes, Liliana Krigbaum and Edwin Mendez Vargas give brief speeches which are followed by student Huntley Kenley singing John Lennon’s Imagine. Adrienne Evans of the Wassmuth Center for Human Rights speaks, congratulating the students and the community on their efforts in standing up to hate by creating awareness with the memorial. She notes that Idaho is the only state with an Anne Frank Memorial.
After a final song by the band, the ribbon is cut and those attending are invited to cross the street to the Depot to learn more about the memorial, about Upstanding – a bystander intervention approach – and how we as a community can work to prevent another Holocaust or genocide from happening.
How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world. –Anne Frank