Local Commentary

A Penny for Your Thoughts: News of Greater Falls Church

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The timing of President Obama’s Sunday night announcement of the military action that killed Osama bin Laden was remarkable in many ways. For me, the air was already laden with harsh memories of previous wars and mass murders, as my husband and I had just participated in Yom Ha’Shoah 2011, the Northern Virginia Memorial Observance of the Holocaust, held at George Mason University. I was asked to read some names of those killed in the prison camps; the names were from one family, all killed in Poland in 1942.

The timing of President Obama’s Sunday night announcement of the military action that killed Osama bin Laden was remarkable in many ways. For me, the air was already laden with harsh memories of previous wars and mass murders, as my husband and I had just participated in Yom Ha’Shoah 2011, the Northern Virginia Memorial Observance of the Holocaust, held at George Mason University. I was asked to read some names of those killed in the prison camps; the names were from one family, all killed in Poland in 1942. It was a chilling reminder of the inhumanity of Hitler’s Nazi regime, but also of the indifference of so many nations, including our own, when Jewish immigrants appealed for assistance, visas, identity cards, or traveling papers and tickets. Now, justice was meted out to another mass murderer, one whose name never deserves to be read in tribute.

May 1, the date of the President’s announcement and, apparently, of bin Laden’s death, is the formal observance of Law Day in this country. How fitting that someone bent on destroying the very foundation of our country, our constitutional framework of law, should die ignominiously on a day that we celebrate liberty, freedom, and the rule of law.

One of the most moving portions of the Holocaust observance was the Candle Lighting Ceremony, which brought together survivors of the death camps, as well as relatives of those who died. The sixth, and last, candle was lit by a multicultural group, representing immigrants from many nations who now are neighbors and friends in Northern Virginia. Africans, Indians, Koreans, Vietnamese, and Latinos stood in solidarity behind the simple white tapers, representing many non-Jews who faced immigration challenges of their own in recent years.

Just as our diverse Northern Virginia community came together for the Holocaust observance, so, too, should our country unite to solve the challenges we face as a nation. Resolve has many definitions, but two very appropriate ones are “to find a solution” and “to make a firm decision about.” People and parties must work together, with resolve, to resolve our most pressing problems, which are people-oriented, not partisan issues. That’s what leadership is all about, and that’s what President Obama demonstrated once again last week.

The Fairfax County Human Rights Commission has selected its awardees for 2011, and a special award will be presented to Good Spoon, a non-profit social service agency based in Annandale in Mason District. Founded by Rev. Jae Euk Kim in 2004, Good Spoon volunteers serve the needs of the Latino community, including day laborers, as well as the Korean-American community. Good Spoon maintains a food pantry, conducts health fairs, and hosts English classes for non-native speakers. Dozens of volunteers were honored at Good Spoon’s 7th Anniversary Night last Saturday at the Fairfax Korean Church. The Human Rights award will be presented later this month. Congratulations to Good Spoon!


Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be e-mailed at [email protected]