Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Tribute To Those Persecuted

In March of 2006 two of my friends and I traveled to Amsterdam for spring break. It was not your typical spring break, in that it was very cold and dreary. It was to be expected though. We didn't travel there to be on a girls gone wild video (and I'm not sure how that would have worked, being that only one of us was a girl), but rather, to explore another part of the world.

We saw and did many things during our week stay, and one of the more intimate moments for me was when we visited the Homomonument.
The Homomonument was officially unveiled on Saturday 5 September 1987 on the Westermarkt in the historic heart of Amsterdam.
The monument is located but a mere block away from the Anne Frank House, which I was surprised to find out had a gift shop and cafe. [That was meant to be a joke, but it's difficult to present it as such when the joke relies on vocal intonation]. It was an emotional day for me, although I held it in quite well. We visited a house that was used to hide people [Jews] from persecution and almost certain death. Then we visited a monument dedicated to the persecution and deaths of another group of people: homosexuals. It was a day that was completely enlightening, but also terribly depressing, especially for me; I am a 'member' of the latter group. The monument's plague reads as follows:
Commemorates All Women And Men Ever Oppressed And
Persecuted Because Of Their Homosexuality.
Supports The International Lesbian And Gay Movement In Their
Struggle Against Contemt, Discrimination And Oppression.
Demonstrates That We Are Not Alone.
Calls For Permanent Vigilance.

Past, Present And Future Are Represented By The
3 Triangles On This Square, Designed By Karin Daan, 1987.
I can only keep hoping that this monument becomes ancient history. And this brings tears (of joy) to my eyes:
Each year on the 4th of May, the Netherlands' National Remembrance Day, people from all walks of life gather at the Homomonument to commemorate the gay victims of war. Representatives from political parties, social organisations, the military, the police, dignitaries and ordinary citizens all come to observe the traditional two minutes of silence at 8 p.m. and to listen to the speakers.

The Dutch flag flies at half-mast and the "Wilhemus" (the Dutch national anthem) is sung. This observance, which was once forbidden and had to be fought for, is now an official ceremony that no longer raises an eyebrow.

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