Recently in Miami my wife and I decided to visit the Holocaust memorial near South Beach.
When we initially entered the memorial I experienced the same somber emotion as I experienced at Pearl Harbor, and Ground Zero.
As I was reading a panel outlining the history of the holocaust, I heard an unassuming voice behind me ask if this was the first time I had visited this memorial. I answered yes, and the second question came forth, “What do you think of it?”
I wasn’t expecting the question and was hesitant for there were many emotions running through my head while gazing at an image of several starving naked concentration camp prisoners on the panel in front of me.
The person asking the question came slowly around to the front of me, and stopped. I looked down at a small elderly man who’s faced showed a long hard life, he was unshaven, but not unkept.
I still had not answered the question, but he began talking about what was depicted on the the panels in front of me. He stated the history books will never get the number of concentration camps correct, for there were many places not marked, and the numbers of dead were probably more than stated. He talked of how Hitler had broken the pact Germany made with Russia, and how Stalin, in Russia had also killed many Jews.
As he talked I noticed there was a steady flow of information with no hesitation, his voice firm, and unwavering.
His command of the history depicted on the panels was astounding, and as I turned my gaze back at him he raised his right hand, and showed me the mark the Nazis put on his forearm many decades ago.
Tears immediately welled up in my eyes, I realized he had lived the Nazi horror, was witness to the atrocities, and experienced hell on earth all those years ago.
Through all of this emotion I kept listening, for he was still talking.
1939, at age 13 he was taken and put in a camp in Poland. He was put to work in the factory that built airplanes the Nazis used against their enemies. His Grandfather was an Officer in the Polish Army, and when Hitler invaded they were crushed in two weeks because all the Poles had were horses and swords.
He talked of the liberation in 1945 and how the US and allies started handing out their rations to the prisoners, which was a mistake for the stomachs of the freed prisoners were not use to the nutrients and many got very sick.
Luck was with him after he was liberated, he went to Italy for 18 months, and then to the US on a military transport, bypassed Ellis Island, entered the States through a military base.
As I listened, I realized that Kathryn had not yet caught up with me, so I asked her over to meet this amazing gentleman.
When she she got to us he gently took her hand and kissed it very gentleman like, and continued to talk of the atrocities, and life as a concentration camp prisoner. As he talked he again raised his right hand and showed Kathryn the mark of the Nazis. She wept with me, as he kept talking.
His family and friends were taken from their homes and businesses by the Nazis and transported by train to various camps. None of his family survived, except him. He believed he was lucky to make it because he was a young male who could work in a factory making war machines.
His voice was matter of fact, yet there was no trace of anger, hatred, or contempt. He said there were good Germans, one of them being Werhner Von Braun, and his team of scientists and engineers who helped America get to the Moon.
Our teacher went on to tell us that he taught school for 30 years in New York, fought in the Korean conflict, and met his wife on a blind date. He raised two daughters, has 3 grandchildren, and has traveled the US many times over.
He talked of the horror he witnessed but he didn’t talk of hate for those who murdered and persecuted, he instead talked of how we have to live peacefully and respectful with each other, for what we have in the world is what we make of the world. He spoke of hope, and peace.
This 90 year old man drives 70 miles one way, 3 times a week to the Memorial to talk to those who come learn about the Holocaust. He likens it to visiting a cemetery, where memories of family, friends, fellow Jews are housed. There are fewer of his kind, and he laments the younger generation seem not to want to learn.
We listened, wept, and learned. I asked if I could take a picture, and he said he would take us to panel 67 where his family is remembered, for a photo.
After handshakes and hugs we parted ways so Manny Roth could quietly find another family to teach.
Gone are the days of the trusted news reporter. We realied on Walter Cronkite when it came to reporting the news. Today, it’s anyone’s best guess what is true, and what it not. With the maturity of the internet, everyone (including me) is published, and everyone (again, including me) has an opinion. So many of the “news” organizations are slanted to one side or the other, so it’s really hard to get true, fair, unbiased “news”.
OK, I realize there is no such thing as totally “unbiased” information since there will always be some slant when humans are involved but, how do I get the best, unfiltered information these days?
I have no desire to get caught up with the emotional fervor which is so common on the social sites, I just want to be informed with as little slant as possible.
So many times I have researched and dug deeper when reading an interesting story only to find inconsistencies when going to other sources.
This has become really hard.
There are too many “news” stories with inaccuracies, and I have come to the realization that it’s up to each of us to find what the facts are to each story.
Cable News networks tend to sensationalize most stories, and use “experts” in a panel style setup to talk (ad nauseam at times) about the ongoing story. These talking heads can be slim on credibility, and are often listed as a “(news channel) contributor”, some have previous government employment in appointed positions.
One of the more credible business channels I watch lists graphically the background of the “expert” being interviewed. This helps add credibility to what’s being discussed.
I shy away from most third party platforms (Google news, Facebook, LinkedIn) unless I can pick and choose what I see. Let’s face it, Facebook is all about the amount of “likes” a page gets which doesn’t mean what’s on it is valid.
With Google News and LinkedIn you can semi-customize your feed, but questionable sites can still get through their algorithms on the general feed. One product I like is the Amazon Echo which has a decent customizable news feed.
I realized a couple of years ago that I needed to come up with some guidelines to keep me away from getting sucked into the emotional one-sided rants that seem so prevalent today. I did a lot of experimenting, and finally came up with these:
Consider the site or channel (is it normally slanted to one side), the sources referenced (named or not), and how the story is presented. So many times the TV news channels use “experts”, I always ask myself, how did they become an expert? If their credentials aren’t mentioned or shown, and they are not a household name, I usually take my attention elsewhere.
When I find a story that is interesting I go to multiple sources to perform deeper research into the subject. I usually give up if I can’t find other sources. If the story is close to home, I contact people I know and trust to find out more.
Filter Twitter by using lists: Twitter, unfiltered, Can be a real caustic mess, but if you filter it by creating lists, it can provide some good credible information. It took me a long to time set this up, but I found it to be a quick way to get credible information. After the last Presidential election I found myself managing it a lot more (adding and deleting accounts).
When reading stories always be aware of red flags like “reports are saying”, “anonymous sources”, “seeking confirmation”, and other non confirmed verbiage. I find credibility ends with these statements most of the time.
Any headline that reads: “Here’s What you need to Know”, or is telling you what should be important I find offensive. I can find my own information out, and come to my own conclusion as to what is important to me. I recently came across a Headline from The Atlantic which infuriated me: “Five Books to Make You Less Stupid About the Civil War”. My father was a civil war buff, and the family library has many books on the Civil War, many of which I have read. To think the author of this article is telling me I am stupid is very offensive.
Since the internet came into existence there is so many places to find information, it just takes longer to find a decent unbiased account of it.
I hope these guidelines help, and am always open to suggestions or discussion.
While driving to Savannah earlier this year I used Google Maps to guide me through the maze in Atlanta. As I approached downtown a pleasant female voice from my phone informed me of a quicker route around an upcoming gridlock. I glanced at the route being displayed on the phone and was dumbfounded. She wanted me to get off the highway and drive through a few streets in downtown Atlanta to avoid a traffic accident on the Interstate.
Thinking this would be a good test, I took Google up on it, and before I knew it, was back on the highway past the wreck, and driving 65 again. Ok, I really wasn’t driving 65, it’s Atlanta. More like 35, then 60, then 25, then 65.
Perplexed, and curious, I had to find out how an App on a smartphone could help me navigate through traffic jams in real time.
It all comes down to Big Data, the internet, and GPS.
You see, Google anonymously tracks the speed of all those Smartphones using the Maps App, and by using the aggregated movement they can get a good picture of the live traffic condition. It’s called crowdsourcing, and they have been doing it all over the United States for years.
When Google bought the traffic app “Waze” in 2013, they got an even better traffic picture using driver input to indicate actual accidents, and road construction.
Over the years Google has compiled enough data to create accurate models to predict traffic levels for different periods of the day and week for urban areas.
Now, stop and think of the amount of data that is being sent, analyzed and then made available for millions of users, visually through an App.
I’ve tested this real time traffic feature while driving through Nashville, Birmingham, St. Louis, and Orlando, and it’s pretty accurate. My destination arrival time has been within 15-20 minutes of their ETA for most of my travels.
A great example of how Big Data helps us, the consumer.
Dad was part of the what Tom Brokaw called “the greatest generation.” He was born and raised during the Great Depression, lived through world War II, and after the War was part of the generation that built this nation into the greatest of the world.
Dad knew the meaning of sacrifice, both in terms of material possessions and of real blood, sweat, and tears. He was a humble man, I never heard him brag about what he did or been through. He was loyal, patriotic, level-headed, religious, humorous, and most of all loving.
These values which Dad embodied, are now passed to all of us.
I offer a poem which he taught his sons:
When things go wrong as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all up hill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.
Life is strange with its twists and turns
As every one of us sometimes learns
And many a failure comes about
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow—
You may succeed with another blow.
Success is failure turned inside out—
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell just how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far;
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit—
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.
Dad’s Legacy continues in all of his family.
Craig R. Young, son
Friday, May 12, 2017
(Edward Joseph Young, Jr. of High Hill, Missouri passed from this life on Monday, May 8, 2017 at the age of 90 years. He was surrounded by his wife, two sons (and their wives), and four grandchildren at the time of his departure.)