Last week, under the supervision of Rappahannock County High School English teachers Alex Coffroth and Jena Weaver and math teacher Sarah Burke, eighth-grade students visited the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. For many, it was their first visit; for most, it was an experience they will never forget.
The students witnessed democracy run amok, and tragically, the images they viewed and the characters introduced were not fictitious. What happened in Germany in the 1930s – when the culture, the military, education and the economy became highly regulated and controlled by the state – could happen again.
With full knowledge that Holocaust atrocities invoke somber awakenings, teachers prepared RCHS students by having them read two books on related subject matter before their field trip. The variation of an often-used quote, “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it,” is especially apropos. How many books on history have you read lately?
Hopefully, the students’ experience will invoke greater interest in the Constitution, a document that was designed to protect our God-given rights and limit the power of government – two essential principles that might have prevented, or mitigated, the atrocities that occurred in Germany not so long ago.
I wish to personally thank Mr. Coffroth, Ms. Weaver, Ms. Burke and former superintendent Dr. Aldridge Boone, not only for their leadership and guidance, but for educating our children on what can occur when freedom is overtaken by despotic and authoritarian government. As John Adams once said, “The jaws of power are always open to devour, and her arm is always stretched out, if possible, to destroy the freedom of thinking, speaking and writing.”