Editor's Note: Eva Kor, 85, died not long after a final and inspirational presentation at the Auschwitz Museum in Poland. David Webster wrote this column when she visited Hope in 2015. Nancy Banta, Jennifer Wamsley and Jimmy Tedder, colleagues at Flat Rock-Hawcreek schools, found out she liked Diet Mountain Dew and Chicken McNuggets and had them ready for her arrival. Eva was pleased and immediately started eating according to Nancy.

In the book, “Killing Patton” by Bill O'Reilly & Martin Dugard, several parts were quite difficult for me to read, in particular when the authors spend some time on the concentration camps. A few lines follow from Chapter 14: Auschwitz-Birkenau; January 26, 1945; 1:00 am: “The guards march to the nearby barracks and order the prisoners out into the snow. The skeletal children with their prison tattoos and shaved heads respond immediately, knowing that the punishment for being too slow is a bullet.”

Our town was recently honored with a special presentation by Eva Mozes Kor in the Hauser gym attended by students, educators, and others. Eva somehow survived Auschwitz, a place where she and her twin sister, Miriam, were taken by the Nazis and studied. Their names are mentioned several times in the aforementioned book. She spoke for about one hour and had the attention of all of us receiving a standing ovation afterward.

I don't know how anyone possibly puts into words what Eva went through, what many others went through. It was horrific! I thought of my family and how fortunate we have been throughout our lives. None of us have been taken from our home, packed in a railroad cattle car, thrown in unsanitary quarters with rats, given little to eat or drink, studied for hours while forced to be naked, injected with harmful ingredients, and only thought of as a number.

Eva ended her speech with the following life lessons which can also be found at the end of her book, “Surviving The Angel Of Death:"

  • “Never ever give up on yourself or your dreams, for everything good in life is possible.”
  • “Judge people on their actions and the content of their character.”
  • “Forgive your worst enemy and forgive everyone who has hurt you-it will heal your soul and set you free.”

I am well aware of the demands on educators and how there are pressures on meeting all the established standards to make a particular mark on a standardized test. Flat Rock-Hawcreek School Corp. should be commended for taking a session of the school day out to allow students and teachers time away from their typical schedules to listen to Eva. In a short period, several lessons were covered, and many lives were impacted. There is no grade scale that could possibly do justice to what I observed in the small gym of Hauser in the small community of Hope!

Now, I must travel to Terre Haute, not to visit Indiana State University where I got my degree in education, but to visit the Holocaust museum Eva opened, CANDLES Holocaust Museum & Education Center (www.candlesholocaustmuseum.org).

2019 update: I have yet to follow through on this visit, a memorable field trip that Nancy & Jennifer arranged for fifth graders after Eva's presentation. It is time for me to take that trip, a small way to honor Eva.