Lest We Forget the Children

Today, as we remember the many young men and women who died for the cause of freedom—our own and others’—let’s not forget Hana Brady.

She and too many others like her didn’t live to enjoy what those brave soldiers fought for. Although she lived only eleven years, her life still makes a difference through her story sent around the world in a suitcase.

Let’s remember, too, that all of the freedoms we enjoy, which were bought and paid for by others, remain challenged to this day.

In 2007, I watched a documentary about Hana, who grew up in a town near Prague and whose life ended shortly after she arrived at a concentration camp at Auschwitz.

The unveiling of Hana’s story came about very recently. A young Japanese woman stumbled upon it shortly after she established a holocaust museum in Japan as a means to teach Japanese children the importance of tolerance and respect. In response to her request to borrow artifacts from the holocaust museum in Auschwitz, Ms. Yoshioka received, among other things, Hana’s suitcase with her name, improperly spelled Hanna, on the top.

A remarkable, miraculous journey followed the receipt of that suitcase, a journey driven not only by the Japanese children’s questions but perhaps also by a desire that far preceded theirs. As Hana’s brother, George, who was eventually located here in Ontario, said, “Hana always wanted to be a teacher.” Since Ms. Yoshioka’s search, Hana’s suitcase has taught children all over the world.

I’ll never forget Hana Brady’s story, and I’m sure none of those children will either.

There aren’t as many Remembrance Day poppies worn now as there were when I was Hana’s age. I guess there were more people back then who remembered what the red button flower stood for, since war was part of their own life experience.

This year, as we remember those of our own military who died, and we remember what they died for, let’s not forget Hana, who died just because she was a Jew. And let’s remember her when we watch the evening news.

May her memory be blessed.