Wiesel to Memorial Award Audience: ‘Silence Is Forbidden’

Thursday, May 19, 2011 :: Staff infoZine
By Kendra Johnson

Nearly 17 years after genocide erupted in Rwanda, survivor Clemantine Wamariya still hears the yells of her grandmother “to run.”

Washington, D.C. – infoZine – Scripps Howard Foundation Wire – Wamariya, 22, shared memories of her genocide experience during the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s 2011 National Tribute Dinner on Monday.

The dinner honored Nobel Laureate and museum founding chairman Elie Wiesel for his contribution to Holocaust remembrance.

Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor who gained prominence through his literary writings, was awarded the 1968 Nobel Peace Prize. In 1978, President Jimmy Carter appointed him chairman of the President’s Commission on the Holocaust.
Wiesel was awarded the museum’s inaugural United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Award.

Wamariya and several other speakers, including former secretary of state Colin Powell, praised Wiesel for his work and his role in “confronting hatred, preventing genocide and promoting human dignity.”

“We must not be silent when we see injustices,” Wamariya said.

Sara J. Bloomfield, the museum’s director, described Wiesel as “transformative.” She said has used many of his books in classes and workshops and has seen a change in the people she taught.

“No one else has done so much to honor the victims of the Holocaust by working tirelessly to create a more just world in their memory,” she said. “His legacy to humanity is unique and extraordinary. It is our great privilege to present him with the institution’s inaugural award.”

The museum also named the award in his honor. The award will now be known as the U.S. Holocaust Museum’s Elie Wiesel Award.

During his acceptance speech Wiesel said there is still much work to do and encouraged those at the dinner to “remember the suffering and remember the fight.”

“Silence is forbidden,” Wiesel said. “There is still so much to remember.”

The dinner was part of the museum’s “Days of Remembrance.” This year’s theme was “Justice and Accountability in the Face of Genocide: What Have We Learned.”

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