Another First by Howard Debs

Pope Francis

came to Auschwitz

where 1.1 million,

mostly Jews, were

killed during WWII,

He was just a toddler then,

now the first pope of three

to visit this plot of anguish

who did not live in Europe

through the war.

He walked in silence,

passed the infamous

gate of past atrocity,

he prayed in silence

at the death wall, witness

to thousands shot by

Hitler’s SS henchmen,

he left in silence,

after two hours,

writing in Spanish

in the guest book of

the memorial site:

“Lord, have pity on your people.

Lord, forgive so much cruelty.”

Around the same time

there were other firsts.

The first woman nominated

by a major party in America,

a U.S. Navy vessel will bear

the name of an LGBT

activist Harvey Milk, a first,

a group of Afghan and Pakistani

migrants staged a hunger strike

at the Serbian-Hungarian border

which is closed to them, a first;

the first of something is always significant

The first baby, the first of the family to graduate college,

the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.

Recently Guinness announced

that the now oldest living man, Israel Kristal

is a Holocaust survivor, that is a first. Perhaps the

pope’s appeal for forgiveness should

be accorded him. If never asked

this could be yet another—first.


Author note: In thinking about the significance of all that has taken place in the past week or so while certainly the Clinton nomination, regardless of politics, is undeniably historic, I believe other weighty issues also come to bear on this recent news cycle, and I did not want these to be relegated to the sidelines, and one in particular, our response to which remains an index to our humanity.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s