Texas Legislature Commemorates Holocaust at State Capitol
Austin, TX - Representative Joe Nixon, (R) Houston,
and Senator Florence Shapiro, (R) Plano, hosted a Yom HaShoah ceremony
on Tuesday, April 29, 2003 to officially observe a day of Holocaust
remembrance at the Texas State Capitol for the first time. Resolutions
in the House and Senate that day were followed by a commemoration
ceremony on the front steps of the Capitol and a reception in the
state’s Agriculture Museum. More than a hundred people attended,
including survivors, their families and friends, liberators,
representatives of the Texas Coalition for Holocaust Education, and
“Today marks a historic day at the capitol,” Rep. Nixon
stated. “I am so pleased to have worked with everyone involved to
ensure that survivors and victims are properly honored and remembered
for the struggles they have endured. We must never forget our duty to
ensure that such horrors are never allowed to happen again.”
Both a survivor, Lea Weems of Houston, and a liberator, Jerry
Scott of Dallas, spoke of their experiences and urged attendees to
“I thank you for the opportunity to stand with you in grief
and resolve on this historic day of remembrance,” said Weems to those
gathered on the steps for the ceremony. “Now more than ever it is
incumbent upon us to speak out about what we know can happen if brutal
dictators are allowed to threaten our freedom with terrorism and
weapons of mass destruction. I am reassured that my parents and the
other millions of victims of the Holocaust did not die in vain, that
their memory is being preserved with the help of this fantastic body,
the 78th Legislature, and its adoption of today’s powerful resolution.”
Joined by Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, who presented awards to
essay and art contest winners, Rep. Nixon and Sen. Shapiro both spoke
of the importance of honoring Holocaust survivors and remembering the
dangers of hatred and prejudice.
“We have a moral obligation to intervene when evil takes
control,” Sen. Shapiro said. “I believe in the goodness of mankind and
that people want to help when help is needed. And as a generation of
Holocaust survivors diminishes in living numbers—my parents included—it
becomes increasingly incumbent upon all of us to perpetuate their
memory and the lessons of this unfathomable evil; and to understand the
importance of the phrase, ‘Never Again.’”
Other legislators who attended the outdoor ceremony in support
of Yom HaShoah included Sen. Gonzalo Barrientos, (D) Austin; Senator
Bob Deuell, (R) Mesquite; Sen. Rodney Ellis, (D) Houston; Sen. Craig
Estes, (R) Wichita Falls; Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., (D) Brownsville; Sen.
Steve Ogden, (R) College Station; Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, (D) San
Antonio; Sen. Judith Zaffirini, (D) Laredo; Rep. Steve Wolens, (D)
Dallas; and Rep. Martha Wong, (R) Houston.
Yom HaShoah, which originally began in Israel in 1951, is now
observed throughout the world. Services provide a time for Holocaust
survivors, their families, their friends, and entire communities to
remember the victims of Nazi hatred. Holocaust Remembrance Day is
reserved for prayer, study and reflection and does not seek to answer
the question of why, but simply asks that the community remember those
The commemoration in Austin was sponsored by The Texas
Coalition for Holocaust Education. The group also sponsored a statewide
Yom HaShoah art and writing contest in conjunction with the event.
Entries were judged prior to April 29 and the winners were invited to
attend the ceremony for recognition. First place in the middle school
division of the writing contest went to Aaron Eisen, a 6th grader at
Eubanks Intermediate School in Southlake, Texas. Placing second was 8th
grader Elizabeth Drescher from the Round Top – Carmine School in La
Grange, Texas. Third was Brooke Singer, a 7th grader at The
Emery/Weiner School in Houston.
First place in the high school division of the writing contest
went to Jason Boitnott, a junior at Cinco Ranch High School in Houston.
Second place went to Kristin Kramer, a senior at Rider High School in
Wichita Falls, Texas, and third place went to Donna Saa, a sophomore at
Waltrip High School in Houston.
First place in the middle school division of the art contest
went to Robbie Erickson, an 8th grader at Bradley Middle School in San
Antonio. Second place went to Lealo Partsch, an 8th grader at Albright
Middle School in Houston, and third place went to 6th grader Nicole
Bernard of the Wilder Intermediate School in San Antonio. The winner of
the high school division of the art contest was Trevor Monteiro, a
senior at Naaman High School in Dallas. The works were displayed in the
Central Gallery of the Capitol Extension.
The Texas Coalition for Holocaust Education is made up of The
Dallas Holocaust Memorial Center, The El Paso Holocaust Museum and
Study Center, The Holocaust Memorial of San Antonio, Holocaust Museum
Houston, Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County, North
Texas/Oklahoma Region of the Anti-Defamation League, and the Southwest
Region of the Anti-Defamation League.
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