Holocaust Survivor Delivers Message

Holocaust Survivor's Message to West Freshman: Words are Powerful
Posted on 05/18/2018
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photo of holocaust survivor speaking to West FreshmanThe resounding message at Lakota West Freshman from Holocaust survivor Dr. Al Miller last week was loud and clear: “Words are ever so powerful.”

After recounting his personal experience throughout this dark time in history, he went on to describe in vast contrast his welcome to America. An immigration officer gave him some wise advice: “Welcome to America. You’re now in the land of the free,” Miller remembered. “Obey our laws, find a job and make something of yourself.”

“There was no cloud high enough for me in that moment,” said Miller, emphasizing that while words can beat you down, they can also lift you up. Those words inspired him to get a job and eventually, join the U.S. Army, go to college and pursue a lifelong career in optometry.

According to World History and Honors American History teacher Jennifer Parrett, who organized the all-school assembly, this is the fourth year that West Freshman has hosted a speaker from the Holocaust and Humanity Center’s Speaker’s Bureau. It is now named the Coppel Speaker’s Bureau in honor of survivors Trudy and Werner Coppel, who visited West Freshman at the program’s start and several other Lakota schools over the years.

“I believe this is an incredible resource and I share with my students how lucky they are to hear a primary source in person,” Parrett said. “Students have been very positive about the experience.”

“The assembly was moving and touching. This was REAL!” said freshman Jillie Rose.  

Others, Parrett said, were impressed by the details that his stories gave about his schooling experience under the Nazi regime and said they could picture what was happening like they were there.

“What is difficult to talk about must be talked about and what is difficult to be confronted must be confronted,” Miller advised his young audience, making the point that it’s the only way to change attitudes and beliefs.