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MANAMA, Bahrain - U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) held a Holocaust remembrance ceremony at the U.S. Navy base in Bahrain, April 30, to honor and remember the victims and survivors.
Members of the U.S. diplomatic and military community in Bahrain attended and participated in the remembrance ceremony, including the U.S. ambassador to Bahrain and Rear Adm. Sean Bailey, deputy commander of NAVCENT and U.S. 5th Fleet.
“As we remember innocent victims who endured tragic and unthinkable circumstances at the hands of antisemitism, we also honor the perseverance, courage and strength of those who survived,” said Bailey during remarks at the ceremony. “We must reject prejudice, we must reject hate speech and we must reject antisemitism.”
The Holocaust was a systemic genocide, killing six million Jews and millions of others from 1938 to 1945, before and during World War II. Guest speaker, U.S. Ambassador to Bahrain Steven Bondy, noted the unimaginable perils victims and survivors faced.
“Families were erased. Mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, children and grandchildren, were brutally murdered,” said Bondy. “The reverberations of these crimes against humanity live in our collective memory because we made a deliberate effort to report, study and teach people about the Holocaust. All driven by an unshakable commitment – ‘never again.’”
This year’s Department of the Navy theme for Holocaust remembrance was “Home and Belonging,” to highlight the humanity of victims and survivors. Lt. Levi Ceitlin, a rabbi and command chaplain for U.S. 5th Fleet Task Force 52, spoke at the ceremony and described an encounter he had 15 years ago with a Holocaust survivor.
“I was in Prague and met a Holocaust survivor who was liberated from a camp 45 miles outside of the city, and he took me there and showed me the camp from his perspective,” said Ceitlin. “He showed me what he actually experienced. It was a surreal moment that brought an unimaginable experience to life. It made it real.”
Bailey also honored the 550,000 Jewish men and women who served in the U.S. military with distinction during World War II. Some were captured and placed in concentration camps, 10,000 died in combat and 36,000 received citations for valor.
“Jewish American warfighters maintained their resilience and courage,” said Bailey.
NAVCENT includes 8,000 American personnel and families stationed in Bahrain and operating in the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea, parts of the Indian Ocean and three critical choke points at the Strait of Hormuz, Suez Canal and Bab al-Mandeb.
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