PACIFIC OCEAN - Sailors and Marines aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu (LHA 5) observed "Yom Hashoah" or Holocaust Remembrance Day with a commemoration ceremony April 28.
The theme for 2013's event was "Never Again: Heeding the Warning Signs."
The goal of the ceremony was to educate attendees, honor the victims, those who lived through the Holocaust; and reflect on the warning signs to genocide. The event also allowed the crew to learn about the atrocities committed by the Nazis.
"We remember this day to pay our respects to those lives lost but also to honor and celebrate those who survived," said Aviation Ordnanceman 2nd Class Ana Nuñez, diversity team president. "Their courage and strength to keep on fighting for their lives in spite of all the challenges they had to face is inspiring."
The ceremony featured several guest speakers including Peleliu's executive officer, Cmdr. Jay Steingold and Ensign Victorya Moreno. Both shared stories of their own family members who were affected by the Holocaust.
"Being raised in the Jewish faith, even 'bar mitzvahed,' we saw the faces of those affected by the Holocaust," said Steingold. "I was always told [as a child] to never forget and to never let it happen again."
The ceremony also featured dramatic readings of survivors of the Holocaust. Diversity team members distributed paper clips symbolizing an act of protest against Nazi persecution, as done by others in the past, even during World War II.
"The Holocaust was the state-sponsored extermination of European Jews by Nazi Germany and its collaborators," said Cpl. Elaine Romain, a diversity team member, reading from the message of Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert. "Between 1933 and 1945, more than six million Jews were murdered while Poles, Soviet prisoners of war, gypsies, Jehovah's Witnesses, political dissidents, the physically and mentally disabled and homosexuals also suffered persecution under the Nazis."
Peleliu is the flagship for the Peleliu Amphibious Ready Group on deployment in the western Pacific region with amphibious transport dock ship USS Green Bay (LPD 20), amphibious dock landing ship USS Rushmore (LSD 47), and embarked 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit.