Week of June 3, 2009

Moving experience at Holocaust Musuem

I had a wonderful and moving experience on Sunday, May 17 at the Holocaust Museum and Learning Center.


One of our newest survivor/speakers, Ben Fainer (who survived numerous slave labor camps, including Buchenwald, when he was between the ages of 8 and 14) was able to meet and become friends with a soldier who was in the U.S. Army unit that liberated Ben in April, 1945. The soldier, who lives in Florida, is now 92. In the hope of saying thanks to a local army unit and telling his story, he invited the 307th Psy. Ops. Company, U.S. Army (Reserves), to the museum.

They have already served two tours of duty in Iraq (15 months per tour) and are headquartered at Jefferson Barracks.

Accepting his invitation, they came, 60-strong, wearing their desert uniforms. It was my honor, along with two other docents — Sarijane Freiman and Linda Koenig — to help lead their tour. Ben had specifically asked me to do so, which was quite an honor.

At the conclusion of our tour and Ben’s — presentation during which he repeatedly thanked the soldiers for setting him free (as if they and their unit had actually been there) he thanked them for serving and protecting the nation.

Concluding, he asked them to please eliminate Osama bin Laden as soon as possible. When Ben finished, the commanding officer ordered the unit to “stand” at attention and to “present arms” — immediately 60 hands saluted Ben in unison, and maintained that salute for at least 10 seconds as a sign of respect to Jewish Holocaust Survivor Ben Fainer.

During their final good-byes, the commander and his adjutant removed their American Flag patches and 307th unit badges and presented them to Ben. I could not have been more proud of our military men and women than I was at that moment.

Irl Solomon

St. Louis

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