JACKSONVILLE, Fla – Several students are planting a “daffodil memorial garden” to pay tribute to the children who were murdered during the Holocaust.
Sandalwood High School teacher Patrick Nolan said days like Thursday, which is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, are important. It marks the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau in Poland in 1945.
According to a first-of-its-kind study done in 2020, 63% of Americans don’t know that 6 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust, and another 36% believe it was fewer than 2 million. Florida had one of the lowest Holocaust knowledge scores. More than half of Americans believe something like the Holocaust could happen again.
Sandalwood students from the drama department and Senior Men Service Club are growing 250 daffodils as a part of a global mission to grow 1.5 million of them. That number represents the number of children murdered during the Holocaust.
“This was a human catastrophe,” Nolan said. “This was not an accident. It was not a natural disaster. It was human beings doing this to other human beings because they deemed them unfit or subhuman and hated them so much that they were willing to create this instrument of destruction throughout Europe.”
Nolan is leading the project. He has been teaching a course on the Holocaust at the high school and college level for 15 years. Nolan wants the garden to be another way to teach others.
“Anything that we can do to keep that story alive, to keep the story of the victims and the survivors of the Holocaust in people’s minds is important,” he said.
This comes at a time where this an emphasis on teaching this history.
A nationwide survey released in 2020 shows there is a lack of basic knowledge about the Holocaust among adults younger than 40 years old.
For example, 1 in 10 of those polled said they could not remember ever hearing the word “Holocaust.”
Nearly half could not name one of the more than 40,000 concentration camps or ghettos established during World War II.
“The job of any educator who is working to teach about this subject is to remind students that something like this happened at one time in human history,” Nolan said. “There’s nothing that says it cannot happen again.”
Nolan believes the best remedy to that is education.
There will be a commemoration event inside the Sandalwood High School auditorium for students during school hours Thursday. The memorial garden will be dedicated at 2:30 p.m.