Rotarians learn about POWs

12 years ago

By Tammie Mulvey
Houlton Rotary member

    HOULTON — David Greenham from the Holocaust and Human Rights Center located at UMA, visited the Houlton Rotary Club on Monday, July 9.
    The mission statement for the Holocaust & Human Rights Center of Maine (taken from the group’s website) is as follows: “Have we learned the lessons of the Holocaust? History will record that we have not. Lessons unlearned call for new ways of teaching, and compel us to innovate – as educators, as citizens, as organizations.”
    According to Greenham, the Holocaust & Human Rights Center of Maine advocates the examined life. Its mission: getting to the bottom of intolerance. By teaching people to think about others by thinking for themselves, we join the effort to create an ethically literate future society.
Contributed photo
BU-CLR-Rotary-dcx-pt-29GUEST SPEAKERS — David Greenham, left, and Kay Bell were guest speakers at the Houlton Rotary Club July 9, speaking on the POW camps in Houlton. With them is Rotarian Leigh Cummings.

    Through forward-looking initiatives in education, exhibition and advocacy, we engage students and spectators of all backgrounds, and expand the study of the Holocaust to address all abuse of human rights – from racial genocide to civil injustice to one human being’s unreasoning hatred.
    “Intolerance thrives, the danger is real,” he said. Saying ‘never again’ is not enough. If to forget the past condemns us to repeat it, we make our own history by what we choose to remember – and keep our promise to the future by what we choose to do.”
    Greenham visited the Houlton Historical Society and Art Museum after the meeting. He was impressed with the community and the items on display related to the POW camp. They are planning on an exhibit to open in early September and run through November at the University of Maine at Augusta.
    He also met with Kay Bell a local resident with first hand experience of the POW prisoners, as they worked on her family farm picking potatoes. At that time Kay’s brother was killed in Germany. Greenham would like to use many of the Museum’s and Kay’s items for the exhibit.
    Many Rotarians shared their stories with Greenham and he was interested in learning more about the effect the POW camp had on our local community. Some of the comments made were:
    “I remember asking my mom why do they look just like us?” said one Rotarian member.
    “I recall picking potatoes with the prisoners and they were required to pick only 20 barrels a day and they would sometime finish in the morning. My family would bring cookies for everyone picking and they loved that and then they would help with the loading of the barrels even though they did not have to,” said another.
    The meeting was very informative, thank you to all that shared stories.