Our Patriotic Duty to Raise Our Voices

Among the children pulled out of classes because they were Jews and herded together for the camps, was my mother.

From some instinct for survival, this child said to the Nazi officer "Don't kill me, I am too young and pretty to die". He laughed and said, "Get out of here before I change my mind and shoot you".

After surviving Hitler and then Stalin, she made her way to Ecuador where I was born. She then left for America where, despite her previous life of wealth in Hungary, she cleaned toilets and houses to earn a living and put herself through university. Her relatives raised me in Ecuador. The only way to get an education was for me to go to Catholic schools and pass myself off as Christian. But somehow my teachers knew I was a Jew and I was regularly beaten and belted. When I came to America years later, it was to a land of endless opportunity, free from the terrors my mother endured in Europe and the fears of the military juntas of Ecuador. 60 years later, I get chills every time I enter a voting booth and enjoy the breathtaking privilege of freely voting.

Last week neo-Nazis came to Charlottesville.

Yesterday, our president gave impassioned and forceful legitimacy to these neo-Nazis and other white supremacist groups. Given this presidential recognition, these groups have stated that they will be coming to towns throughout the US.

I could not sleep last night and kept thinking about this quote; "First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Socialist...Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me."

It is our patriotic duty as Americans to speak out. This is no longer a Republican versus Democrat debate.

Republicans and Democrats in Congress must find the courage to protect our cherished institutions that ensure liberty and equality for all. Our peaceful pursuits of our American way of life have been called into question. Acceptance of violent, hateful actions damage our country, degrade our image throughout the world and undermine 241 years of democracy.

Ernan Roman

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