Seated next to me today was a 93 year old gentleman that was being honored by the Exchange Club for his service to our nation. Bernard Warshaw was born in 1920 and served under General George Patton at the Battle of the Bulge from December 1944 – January 1945. This man captured my attention as soon as I shook his hand and began to get acquainted with him. Being a lover of history, I began to pick his brain for his memories as we ate lunch together, he told me that he had arrived at the Dachau concentration camp in southern Bavaria on April 30th, 1945. He arrived at Dachau just 8 hours after it had been liberated from the Nazi’s, the same day that Adolf Hitler committed suicide. On the table between us, he had a folio of photographs that he had personally taken himself that day. He asked me to look at the tattered, yellowed photographs that depicted the grisly scene that greeted this young 23 year old American soldier. It was hard for me to believe that I was looking at the actual photographs that he took that day 68 years ago as these were not some random photographs from a museum. I realized I was sitting next to a legend and I told him so. He shrugged that off. These photographs showed piles of emaciated bodies of Jews that had been killed and thrown into heaps to be burned in the ovens. I asked Mr. Warshaw "had he been able to ever get these images out of his head and mind", to which he quickly answered me “no, they never go away”. He then directed my attention to one photo in particular, a young girl (probably not more than 6 or 7 years of age) at the edge of one of the heaps of bodies, and he said “I remember her like it was yesterday”.
I sat there speechless, knowing that in just a few minutes I would be speaking to this large group of people about our Constitution and the Rule of Law. I had went there to be their speaker, and I was humbled beyond measure to have the privilege to sit next to this legend that saw the horrors of humanity with his own eyes. It suddenly struck me as I pondered the connection, the connection between my speaking about the Rule of Law and following the document that was meant to give us order and liberty. I pondered that God had directed my steps today. You see, I had been invited by a pastor friend to attend another important event today, and I chose to honor my commitment to speak to this group. God had ordered my steps to meet this man in order to make the connection between what this man had seen with his own eyes, and my talking about men being governed by a Rule of Law that transcends them.
I looked over these pictures that depicted the horrors and atrocities that men can perpetrate upon other men when left unchecked, and bereft of a Rule of Law that transcends them. I pondered the fact that Germans sat idly by as their nation was used for unspeakable horrors and that the German church for the most part sat silent and did not push back as tyranny arose among them. They just wanted to be left alone. I pondered the fact that many of my brothers and sisters in Christ today do not want to push back against a building soft tyranny. I pondered the facts that I know from my study of history, that tyranny will NOT leave you alone, it is insatiable and it will advance upon you if left unchecked. God used this day to reinvigorate me to make the connection and reject the voices that call for surrender, to reject the misguide voices that tell us to quit making so much "noise" and simply "get along". I refuse to do that.
I am grateful and blessed to have met Mr. Bernard Warshaw today. Perhaps the look on my face shows it all after having looked at his photograph album that you see in my hand. I've seen images from the Holocaust before, but this was the first time I have been face to face with an eyewitness to those horrors. The images had stirred me and taken my breath away. This picture was taken right after I had closed his photo album...and I was coming up for air.