Day 13: Sometimes the road we choose to take is not the road we find ourselves on..

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“America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand.”

-Harry S. Truman

 

 

It was Monday morning and the plan was to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge.  I have never been across the bridge and thought it would be a perfect challenge. The bridge is long, high, intimidating and beautiful.  I also remembered that it was a fond memory of my Dad’s and I needed to see this engineering wonder.

As I made my way to the bridge, it seemed that the route I had intended to take just wasn’t making much sense.  And just as I was starting to try and figure out which way I was heading, I looked to my right and there was the Golden Gate National Cemetery…  I could not believe what I was seeing… thousands of white marble headstones with small flags strategically placed in front of them.  Let me be clear, there were so many I wasn’t sure where the cemetery began and where it ended, but I was certain I absolutely needed to stop and pay my respects on this Memorial Day.

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I did not have any family members in the United States military, but I have an incredible appreciation and admiration for all military servicemen/women that have served their country with honor and dignity.  They have afforded us the priceless freedoms that are protected under the U.S. Constitution and they must know that their efforts and lives have not been lost in vain.  Furthermore, my father although not a U.S. serviceman, still fought on the same side as the U.S. in WWII… if he were here today, he would have insisted that we go out of our way to pay our respects, because it is the right thing to do for those who served.

 

I entered the cemetery and found myself gasping quickly for a breath as I was shocked at the sheer numbers of servicemen/women that had served this country and that were now no longer living.  As I was able to make it to the top of the hill where the large flag stood waving in the wind, I could see the gravesites in perfect alignment for as far as the eye could see.   This is where courage resides… this is where the brave are buried… this is what sacrifice looks like…. This is what Memorial Day is all about…

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Thank you to all the servicemen/women, past and present, for your persistence, bravery, determination and absolute courage in protecting the very freedoms that we all have been afforded because of the sacrifices you have made.  You are all qi2courage heroes because you have chosen a selfless path with danger afoot to protect this amazingly beautiful free country, “The United States of America”!

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I did make it to the Golden Gate Bridge, and it was teeming with people and traffic was crowded.  Indeed it was a beautiful sight, but somehow stopping to walk across it seemed less important after just leaving the National Cemetery.  I will visit again very soon and I will keep this Quest on the list of things to do.

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Today’s Quest reminded me that sometimes the road we think we are supposed to follow takes us in an unexpected direction. It can lead us to places we never thought we would see, but are meant to experience.  I am humbled by this experience and take with me the images of our fallen soldiers. Every time I post, I want to remember all those flags and gravestones. They are symbols that my First Amendment right to post is a freedom that came at a very high price. To servicemen and women, past and present—thank you for your service.

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Humbled and deeply grateful…. Several tears shed and their spirit now with me…. Wondering what tomorrow will bring.

Day 12: A walk among giants…

“In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.”

Aristotle

I decided to start the day with a run by the Bay… no, the knee is not really sure it could handle the run, but it has been a while since I was inspired by the sunrise on a run. What better way to start a day than with a sunrise run by the Bay.  I headed out to the running trail that hugged the water’s edge and with several limps, skips and adjustments, I soon found myself in a running stride.  I could hardly focus on the run as I was caught in a trance as I watched the sky change color before my eyes… a deep pink to a light orange to a bright yellow… it was hard not to notice the shimmering glow on the ocean’s small waves.  As I ran I remember thinking… if and only if, this is my last run, I have been blessed with the most beautiful view… how grateful can I be…

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I arrived near the end of the trail and turned around to head back and complete a 5k.  As I kept my stare on the sunrise I felt an amazing energy from within… the pain could not be felt, but the stride became longer and I could feel the muscles working so very hard to propel me forward faster.  I passed one skillful runner with a smile on my face wondering if he could see my altered gait… then as soon as I had that thought; I realized that how I got there shouldn’t even matter…  As I reached the last 200yds, I decided to sprint and as if it were my last and final race….  As I completed the run, I looked out at the Bay with an immense amount of appreciation and gratitude as my knee let me know the pace I had put it through… it didn’t matter at that point as I had found the strength from within to do what many physicians had warned me I shouldn’t be able to do anymore…. I will admit, I resisted shedding a tear and chose to sigh deeply hoping this wouldn’t be my last sunrise run…  With that it was time to leave as there was a Quest calling my name.

One of the items on my Quest list was to experience the redwood forest.  I simply could not fathom that there could be trees with amazing girth that predated the Indians some hundreds of years ago.  I had Siri take the lead and navigate my way to the Purisima Redwood Open Space Preserve in California.  Siri had me driving down the highway, which then led me to make a turn down a very narrow wild flower-lined road that seem to twist and turn. The postcard looking roadway took me past cow pastures, bulls, horses and open grasslands.  At one point, I was wondering if Siri had led me astray again, but before I could question it, the road came to an abrupt end and there in front of me was the tiniest 5 car parking lot and the trail head.  I was a bit amazed that in just a matter of 100 feet the terrain went from grasslands to deep, rich, dark forest.

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I stepped out of the car and headed on the trail.  I was immediately taken aback at how lush the forest was.  It was dense with green ferns, tall trees, shrubs, babbling brooks and a creek running through it.  I distinctly remember the cool wet feeling as I entered the forest.  Light streamed through the few breaks in the treetop canopy sending beams of light to the ground as if heaven were shining down.  The banana slugs were slowly but intently feeding on the forest floor vegetation and the clover grew in tall, thick clusters.  I stopped and thought, there must be one four leaf clover in this group, but to stop and look would have been like looking for a needle in a haystack… I walked away knowing that even without finding it, I felt like the luckiest girl having the opportunity to have this experience!

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I continued to walk and I thought my camera would break with the amount of pictures I found myself taking.  Every angle, every tree, every living organism seemed photogenic.  And then just as I thought I had seen it all, there in front of me was a giant among giants…. I went down to look at this tree that if it could talk, the stories it could tell… It must have had a width of at least 7-9 feet!  I stood next to it and I couldn’t help but be speechless and in complete awe!  If everyone had this opportunity to see these giants, would they walk away with a better appreciation for nature and protecting the environment?  Would they understand the lifetimes that these trees have lived through… the floods, the wind, the storms, the people that have cut down the others.

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I continued my trek through the forest and took even more pictures. I felt sheer admiration for this magical, natural place.  As I made it to the 2 mile mark and had climbed some hundreds of feet, my knee was letting me know it is time to head back and say my “Goodbye’s” to this piece of heaven.  But before I did, I had to make one stop… I wanted to take the opportunity to dip my foot in the creek and feel the cool water run through my toes.   And that is exactly what I did…

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As I approached the beginning of the trail, I thought to myself, how lucky I am to have walked among giants… to be reminded of the beauty nature has to offer and that this precious gift should be protected.  Kudos to you California for recognizing early on the valuable resources you have been gifted and to protect them so that everyone has the opportunity to see them if they choose to.  Thank you California for allowing me to see and appreciate this great wonder!

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Feeling ever grateful for experiencing this amazing sight!  Wondering what tomorrow will bring!!!

Day 11: Facing my fears to enter the City by the Bay….

 

“Your problem is to bridge the gap which exists between where you are now and the goal you intend to reach.”

Earl Nightingale

 

It was a busy day on Friday, the plan was to head to San Francisco and take in some new adventures.  What I didn’t pay too close attention to was the timing, Memorial Day weekend!!!  Seriously, what was I thinking?  The traffic was backed up for miles as I approached the new bridge into San Francisco.  I have been to this city once before, but my visit was brief and there was no time to really take in the sights as they were intended to be enjoyed.  And so I returned with the hope of going on some new adventures and still yet, searching for courage.

As I made my way to the city by the Bay, I was caught in a lot of traffic which gave me some time to think… I thought about my Dad and remembered how much he loved this city!  It was the first U.S. city he lived in when coming to America.  He lived here for some time, but work at the time was scarce.  He received word that there was a job in Chicago that fit his ability and as much as he wanted to stay, he needed to eat.  And so he made the trek to the Midwest leaving his heart in the city by the Bay.  I remember him speaking of San Fran as if it were an old and dear friend, one that you never want to give up but sometimes have to let go.  I wondered what it was that had him so enamored and in love with this city.  I thought this as I sat in a line of traffic that barely moved.

Then, just as I had thought, “Why am I doing this?” I looked ahead and there before me was this amazing bridge.  It could have been a work of art, and in my mind it was indeed!  The lines of the bridge bent and curved with this subtle steel grey color that reflected the many lights strategically placed on the suspenders.  I found myself unknowingly admiring a bridge!  It was a new gateway to the city that my Dad had longed to return to and now I was beginning to understand what mesmerized him.  The view from the bridge was nothing short of breath-taking!!!

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I remember crossing the old bridge with anxiety and fear.  It seemed so open and I felt very high up and vulnerable to the other drivers who may not have been paying close attention.  I also remember thinking how that bridge did not make me want to return, since it frightened me to cross. Yet, here I was, on this new attractive modern bridge, not fearing for my life but anxious to see what sits on the other side…

The traffic cleared. I crossed the amazing bridge with eager anticipation to learn why my Dad loved this place so!

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Facing my fears and absolutely smiling…. Wondering what tomorrow will bring!

Day 10: Stepping back in time on a mission to find a timeless piece to hold my treasures from this journey.

“Our admiration of the antique is not admiration of the old, but of the natural.”

Ralph Waldo

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The new experience today was two-fold… I needed to find a box to put all my treasures in from my adventures and what better place to look for one, than in the past.  I have never been to an antique store. But I thought this would be a great place to find a unique box that had some history.

I made my way to the antique store downtown and right before stepping in, I remember thinking, “I hope I find what I am looking for.”   The store had their antiques nicely displayed in the window and I was excited to see what I might find inside.  As I opened the door, I immediately picked up on the scent that was reminiscent of my Grandmother’s closet that held priceless treasures from her past.  The kind of treasures she would say in a gentle but firm voice, “You can look, but don’t touch, we wouldn’t want anything to break.”  I was overwhelmed by the amount of antiques in this store. There was so much to take in and yet, I had to remind myself I was on a mission.

I came across old cameras, typewriters, clothes, china, books… wondering all the while, who had parted with these once precious items. If the antiques could talk, what would they say?  I picked up one box, but it was too small.  I found a second, and it was not that durable.  I continued the search…  I came across a rather large stamp collection I found interesting… Then, I found some crazy looking stuffed animals that someone may have once loved, and now they sat on a shelf, perhaps hoping to find a home.  As I continued to walk through this larger than anticipated antique shop, I found an original WWII trunk in fantastic condition that was calling my name. But alas, I resisted and stayed on my mission!

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I continued on, starting to lose some hope that I would find the perfect box/chest to hold my treasures.  When just then, I came upon a set of stairs leading to yet a floor below.  I made my way down the stairs and was in awe at what I found…  Horse bridles, old typewriters, colored glass, pictures, old records, guns, swords, baby items, and costumes.  I continued to walk with hope in my heart and a feeling what I needed to find was still in the store.  As I turned the corner and looked down, there it was, a perfect wooden box, just the right size and in good shape.  I picked it up and noticed the brass emblem on the top, “Piffers Khyber Pass 1880”.  It appeared to be a keepsake box and perfect for what I needed.  The price was $16 and the box was in good shape.  I wondered who had owned it and why they parted with it?  I wondered what the box once contained. Were the contents valuable to the person that possessed it?  I wondered…  I came to the quick realization that the story of who owned this box may never be known. What will be known is the new owner will place treasures inside that will serve as priceless memories and evidence of this amazing Quest!

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I am not sure why I never had the “antiquing” experience before.  Moving forward, I cannot wait to return, look into the past, and pick-up another treasure.

Absolutely smiling from my find…. and wondering what tomorrow will bring…. 🙂

Day 9: Love chocolate…. love bacon… Have I fallen for them both?

“Chocolate covered bacon:  If it can’t stop your heart from joy, it will just stop your heart!”

 

 

Is chocolate covered bacon kismet?

It is not your usual Hershey’s or Crunch bar, but maybe somewhere in between…  I chose to head to the store and find something exotic to try.  While reaching for this bacon chocolate bar, one of the store employees just steps away said, “Are you really going to try that?”  I replied, “Of course.”  He said, “Can I ask why you chose that?”  I went on to explain that I wanted to try something new and exotic and that there will be many more things to try over the next year.  He said, “In that case, I have plenty to show you!”  With enthusiasm in his step, he leapt up and became my personal shopper.  We perused through so many questionable items and they all made their way into my basket.  With that, I thanked him for his time and advice and off I went to pay for my purchases.

When I arrived home, I sat and looked at this unusual meat/candy bar and tried to imagine what it might taste like.  Bacon is greasy and salty with hints of smoke and maple flavor and chocolate is simply always sinfully delicious.  What will this be like?  Will I fall in love with this new exotic treat or will I walk away never to return?

I carefully unwrapped the bar and broke a corner off.  It looked like a regular milk chocolate bar.  I did detect a greasy feeling to the chocolate and I could see flecks of what I presumed were finely crushed bacon bits.  I brought the piece to my mouth and took in the aroma.  It had a maple scent mixed with chocolate.  I brought it cautiously to my tongue and there it melted ever so quickly.  I made sure to keep it on my palate for a little bit of time trying to see if I either loved it or didn’t… I then found myself carelessly swallowing with no ambition or excitement to try the next bite.  It had a subtle maple flavor and was a bit salty… though, sadly to say, no sense of delight that would have me rush for a second piece.  I did try a couple more bites to see if my mind would change, but unfortunately, this chocolate bar may be the only chocolate bar I could safely say that I could live without!

Glad I had the courage to try it.

But I won’t be “pigging out” on bacon-chocolate anytime soon. Wondering what tomorrow’s adventures will bring!

Day 8: Buona Sera

“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.”

-Leonardo da Vinci

 

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I have decided to take on a challenge of learning a new language… Italian.  Why Italian?  I speak German, know some Russian, have taken Spanish and French.  Out of the three languages of love, the only one I have not fallen for is Italian…until now.

The lesson started off well.  The greetings and simple questions seemed similar to the Spanish language that I had learned so many years ago, but I found that I enjoyed the sound of the Italian language. The spoken word seemed to hold more emotion and energy. The new words seemed to flow effortlessly… for now! 😉  I found myself “wanting” to converse in this language… I have a friend that is from Italy and I look forward to becoming more proficient so that I can converse in the language…

But for now, it will take baby steps such as this Good day message of “Buona Sera!”

Ciao a pesto! J

Day 7: Everyone needs some spice in their life!

“Variety’s the very spice of life, that gives it all its flavor.”

-William Cowper

 

It was time to return from Chicago and get back to life in the West.  I woke up early and started the trek to the airport.  Traffic was your typical early morning rush hour in Chicago… cab drivers thinking they owned the road, plenty of music to choose from on the radio to keep your mind occupied and red brake lights seen for miles.  My mind wandered to the lists of things I had to do once I returned home.  There never seem to be enough hours in the day to get things completed.  Alas, I had some time on the plane to get some work done.

I arrived at the airport, checked my bag, made my way to security and headed to my gate.  It felt like a welcomed “Goodbye” as the trip was inspiring, hopeful and enjoyable, but home is where my heart belongs.  I knew I would be back in a matter of a couple months to have this knee replaced and I felt a bit of joy in my heart knowing that it represented a new and hopefully better chapter in my life.

The plane took off from Midway Airport and started the 4 hour flight back home.  I slept for some of the flight, and completed some work for the rest of the flight, but I could feel myself become very hungry as we inched our way back across the country.  My mind had already been set that dinner was going to be my Quest for the day… but what would it be?  After arriving at the airport and getting my bag it was decided that Thai would be the dinner of choice.  I have had Thai before and enjoyed it quite a bit, but a new dish was to be indulged in for the Quest.

When placing the order, the new item to try was chicken satay as the appetizer.  The appetizer arrived and it looked delicious.  Tender pieces of chicken on a skewer with a peanut dipping sauce.  I took one bite and was in heaven!  The chicken had a wonderful marinade and a delicate spice and the dipping sauce was the perfect complement to the chicken.  I declared this to be a success!

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I placed my order for the main dish and chose Shrimp fried rice… nothing healthy about that one! Lol!  The waitress asked on a scale of 0-5 what level of spiciness would I like.  In my mind I was thinking a 0-10 scale as I had not heard the waitress clearly.  I chose “5” and her eyes widened and she said, “5?”  I gave her a look as if to say with my eyes, “It is only half spicy, why are you looking at me that way?”  She walked away leaving me perplexed.  When my entrée arrived, I noticed that it looked “different”.  I could see the flecks of spice and the red hues to the dish, but I didn’t think anything of it.  I took one bite and realized that a “5” is really off the charts spicy!!!  Soon my throat began to burn, my lips were numb to the touch and nothing was cutting the spice…. Not coffee, soda, water, or wine…  I was incredibly hungry and realizing my error rapidly.  It was in that moment that I was faced with the option to ask for a new dish or embrace and face this new dish with enthusiasm… I chose the latter!!!

The waitress came to check on me frequently and I did eat the entire entrée… yes, I was THAT hungry!!!  In the end, I felt a need to order vanilla ice cream for dessert and that relieved some of my spicy symptoms.  I paid my bill and picked up a “to go” menu and quickly noticed the reference to the spice level being 0-5 and I laughed….  I had SURVIVED the spice, tried a new dish and realized that sometimes the adventure we plan to embark on leads us in a new direction leading one to believe maybe I needed a little spice in my life!

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Finally able to feel my lips again…. Wondering what tomorrow will bring!!!

 

Day 6: The Run was just “Dandy”!!

There will be a day when I cannot run….  Today is not the day!”

 dandy2     I awoke this morning and shared a couple cups of rich coffee and decadent pastries with my family.  We traded life stories and there was no limit to the amount of laughter that took place at that breakfast table.  It was mid-morning and I could hear the running trails beckoning me… With that I asked my sister for a good recommendation for a place to run and she directed me to Sun Lake Forest Preserve, Lake Villa, IL…..  I have been doing physical therapy for many weeks and have worked up to a couple road runs so far.  The knee seems to swell after the runs and pain is only a state of mind.  I choose not to let pain create too many limitations in my life and if there are days that it decides to prevent me from running, I always try to find a way around it!  I refuse to give in or give up… so with those thoughts, off I went in search of this new trail… It was a short drive from my sister’s house and quite easy to find.  I pulled up, stepped out of the car and there in front of me was a dandelion lined trail with grasslands and a creek running through it. dandy5   I stretched my legs, turned on my running music and simply hoped for a good run should it be my last run.  And with that very thought the run began.  As I passed other runners and walkers the “Hello’s” and “Good mornings!” were effortless… smiles abound and a stride I wished I could hold onto forever.  I ran as best I could with the sun’s rays kissing my skin and the slight breeze touching my warm body and helping to evaporate the effort of running glistening from my neck and arms.  As I ran, I felt grateful and the memories of similar runs in the prairie state flooded my mind.  As I closed in on the 5k mark, it was time to test the stride and begin the sprint to the finish.  As my arms were pumping and my gait holding its own, I felt like I had come unleashed and with that I ended the run took two steps and felt “eyes on me”…. As I looked to the right, there in the field were two large does just staring… whatever were they thinking?  I would like to think that they could not even detect the altered gait that has become necessary to complete my runs.  I would like to think that perhaps they were wondering, “Who is this speedy one running in my territory?”  The chances are, they were simply thinking, “When is she going to leave?”  Lol!  I snapped a couple pics and took my time to return to my car trying to imprint every step that was taken and every dandelion passed and feeling every grateful for this dandy run, indeed! dandy1 Another run and feeling very grateful…. Wondering what tomorrow will bring! dandy4

Day 5: Introduction to Simple Pleasures of the Edible kind…

 

 “Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity.” ~Voltaire

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It is my firm belief that we were given our five senses to enjoy life to the fullest.  I couldn’t imagine Springtime without the scent of lilacs, or celebrating Birthdays without buttercream frosted cakes… and the same holds true when visiting family and indulging in good conversation over a fabulous dinner and let’s not forget dessert!!!!  Some days I could live for dessert and just that….

My family, being German, decided to purchase some German pastries for our visit as they know how important the edible simple pleasures are!  Tonight, I was presented with a rum ball the size of a softball!!!  A cherry rum dough center coated in a rich decadent chocolate and then chocolate sprinkles.  I was asked if I would eat the entire dessert, my response, “Is there any reason not to?” Lol!!!  With that, they all chose their pastry and one bite and I was in love!!!!  The chocolate cracked as I bit into it to reveal a soft doughy rum center.   I was in absolute heaven!!!  I finished the entire rum ball with no regrets… I tried to make every bite last as long as possible and when the last bite was taken, it was obvious that tomorrow morning a run would not be optional but required… but tonight, I had every reason to smile…  🙂

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No reason not to smile, and wondering what tomorrow will bring…

Day 4: Shedding light on dark times….

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“I simply can’t build my hopes on a foundation of confusion, misery and death… I think… peace and tranquility will return again.”

Anne Frank

 

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While in Chicago, I felt compelled to visit the Holocaust museum in Skokie Il.  You might wonder why I felt compelled to visit this dark period of history?  The answer is deeply rooted in my family history.  My mother was a World War II refugee who lived in Eastern Germany in a small town named Glogau. My mother and grandmother fled for their lives when Soviet troops destroyed their town before the Iron Curtain was lowered.  She and her family escaped and found refuge in a box car and hid for 6 months until they were safe enough to flee to the American zone in Germany. They eventually made their way to the United States.  My Mom tells stories of growing up in Nazi Germany. She describes how the Nazi’s would go door-to-door to make sure that Hitler’s picture was posted in a prominent place in the home.  She also recollects images of the day they left, the chaos she saw and the families leaving everything behind to escape.  I can’t even imagine the courage it took her parents to escape, not knowing where to go or how to get there.

My father’s life was also profoundly shaped by the horrors of WWII.  I will share only part of his story now, as the rest will be written in Qi People.  He was a 15-year-old Serbian boy living in Yugoslavia.  In 1940, he made the conscious choice to pick up a gun and fight against the invading Italian and German armies.  My Dad fought against the Nazi’s throughout his teenage years from 1940-1945.  He waged a desperate and courageous fight against evil. My father passed away just recently, and I wanted to seek to understand the passion he fought with and the pride he carried with him his whole life regarding his service against an evil enemy. Visiting the Holocaust Museum would give me a chance to see first-hand the level of evil that would inspire a courageous boy, the age of an American high school sophomore, to risk his life for freedom.

My younger sister and I made our way to the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Skokie, IL.  When we arrived we walked through a garden dedicated to the 1.2 million Jewish children murdered…. I stopped dead in my tracks as the gravity of what I was about to experience became very real.  As we approached the building, we passed a reflection fountain that lent tribute to the people who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust.  It was a reminder of the many that had their moral compass calibrated, their qi energized, their thoughts clear and the utmost courage to do what was right and just.  They couldn’t save everyone, but they did what they could in the face of fear.

As we walked in, it was hard not to notice the concrete cinder block walls, the dark, drab and cold feeling.  After going through security we made our way from beginning to end.  We listened to the testimonies of survivors of the Holocaust as they spoke for their loved ones who were fortunate to make it out alive.  Their words were haunting and gut-wrenching.  One woman describes standing in line listening to the German guards telling each person which line to go in.  She says they screamed and pointed, “Left… Right…. Life….. Death….”  As a little girl, she could not understand that this was life or death. She only understood that she was being separated from her family.  Today, she is considered a “lucky one”, having been saved from the Auschwitz gas chamber….  Impossible and unfathomable to imagine standing in her shoes.

The artifacts were many and the documentation and explanations were thorough and certainly thought-provoking.  I found myself sighing in disbelief at the stories and depictions.  Just when I thought it couldn’t get worse, it became much worse.  Reading about it is one thing, seeing it is another, but living it through the personal testimonies was almost too much to bear leaving me feeling as though I were suffocating.  I had to step away several times from envisioning the horror that these innocent people had to endure.

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Among all the artifacts and displays, there was one photo that was seared into my mind and I cannot allow it to escape.  It is a picture of a mother and her children waiting to be murdered.

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I am left with so many questions of “Why?”  Why did this occur?  Why didn’t the world rise up earlier against this regime?  Why did this have to happen?  Where were the moral compasses?  Why were the spirits so weak that they could not stop these atrocities?   Who in their right mind could have thought ANY of this was ok?   I walk away with more questions than answers.  One of the last videos presented came with a warning indicating how obscene and graphic the video would be.  I took a deep breath as the video began and my hand made its way to my mouth as I stood and watched the gruesome murder of innocent lives.  I simply could not hold the tears any longer as my raw emotion took over.  I stepped away and my sister and I simply looked at each other in utter disbelief.

Just when I thought the end was near, we turned a corner and there on display was an original boxcar used to corral the Jews and transport them to Auschwitz.  As I took a step inside, the smell of old wood permeated the enclosed area. The wooden floors had holes in them as if they were haphazardly built under a time constraint and for no important reason. I stood there trying to envision being forced into close confines not knowing where I was going and then to arrive to the death camp… The courage it took for the parents to keep their children calm knowing what fate they arrived at.  The sadness and pain both mental and physical that plagued them not knowing what possible crime they could have committed to be sentenced to such brutality.  They lost all they had, their homes, their families, their freedom, their dignity and then the ultimate sacrifice, their lives…. By the eyes and hands of pure evil.

The final portion of the museum was one last video.  The video presented the concept of “The Power of One”…..  It takes just one good person to stand up against evil.  If every “one” stood up against the regimes in the world capable of Genocide, horrific events such as those seen with the Nazi’s and those in Darfur…and now Nigeria…would never come to fruition.  Lives would be spared and evil would be eradicated.  If only “One Courageous” person could have led the world in a revolt sooner…. Would I even be reliving those haunting images that are ingrained in my mind like the numbers permanently branded on the innocent arms of the persecuted Jewish men and women?

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We stopped in the gift shop as I had a compelling need to patronize this museum for having the courage to share this most important story and experience with the world.

My sister and I really did not speak much following that Quest.  It was a lot to process and handle. It is with the truest sense of appreciation that I say a heartfelt, “Thank you” to the men and women who gave their lives trying to end the Nazi terror inflicted on so many.  The bravery and selflessness that led them into a brutal battle against evil should be admired and emulated.

My mother and father shared stories, but it was the Holocaust museum that filled in the blanks and allowed me to see that evil is real and only courage can defeat it.

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