But Holocaust commemoration also has been driven by Christians such as Michael Tudor, a Louisiana lawyer and a Baptist. He came up with the idea of building a Holocaust memorial while jogging past a sculpture by the Israeli artist Yaacov Agam in New Orleans dedicated to the memory of the victims.
If everything goes according to plan, Tudor will break ground on a Holocaust memorial in his hometown of Alexandria (population: 47,000) in November.
“I can think of many reasons we ought to have one even though we are a small city,” Tudor said. “There’s a real historical tie to the liberation of camps. And we’ve always had a vibrant Jewish community for a small town. They’ve been the foundation blocks of our community.”
The privately funded $80,000 structure will feature an 18-foot granite obelisk – “because eighteen is a symbolic number in the Hebrew tradition,” Tudor said – and be engraved with the famous poem “First they came” by the German pastor Martin Niemoler.
The memorial also will remember local U.S. soldiers who participated in the liberation of the camps, as well as the victims and survivors.
“The Greatest Generation is dying out and people’s memories are fading,” Tudor said. “You realize, if not now, when?”
Young expects that with the youngest survivors becoming octogenarians, the trend is unlikely to continue indefinitely. Once they pass, the money and motivation for such projects may disappear as well.
“The next generation,” Young said, “might be less likely to be doing this.”