Recently Alan and I were privileged to be a part of the “March of the Living 2019,” a commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. We were invited by our dear friend, Richard Grenell - Ambassador to Germany. The march focuses on ending anti-semitism and with that sentiment brought light. We marched from Auschwitz to Birkenau along the rail tracks that carried so many Jews to their deaths. Once we were in Birkenau, there was a celebration of life showing that as humans we never lose hope; that we can always look to the light to find peace, truth and forgiveness.
I was honored to be accompanied by such an impressive group of dedicated and passionate people. We all convened in the early morning to take this photo at Auschwitz where the march began. Following us as we left the gates were 10,000 people. Just the sight of all these people and so many young people who came from far and wide made everyone cry. The feelings were deep, pure and important.
Here you can see the March of the Living 2019 on the train tracks that led so many to perish.
We arrived in Kraków, Poland which is significant because Alan‘s mother was born there. She and her brothers and sisters were able to get out in time, but unfortunately the rest of the family perished at Auschwitz. This first leg of the trip was extremely personal for Alan and myself. I noticed Alan leaving the group going from tombstone to tombstone, searching for names trying in vain to see if this is where any of his ancestors remains were buried. You can see by his posture this is a very deep and moving experience for him.
Alan in deep conversation with a 93-year-old Auschwitz survivor. He asked him if he had any memories of people in his family, which he did not. He was only 13 at the time and lost everyone in his family.
We did a tour of the old city of Kraków, which hasn’t changed much over time. It still has an ancient feel, as do the churches and synagogues. Here we are with the US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, at one of the ancient temples.
Meet my new friend, US Ambassador to the Vatican, Callista Gingrich. She and I instantly hit it off and developed a rapport, resolving that after this trip we would stay in touch and see each other. Also, here's a great shot of a fabulous dress my daughter Leslie designed for me.
My trip to Jerusalem made me feel that everybody needs to go to Jerusalem at least once. Because we were traveling with eight US Ambassadors we had access to seeing things that, frankly, were mind blowing and deeply, deeply moving. Here we are underneath the Western Wall, where they’ve uncovered an entire city.
The steps are from the road that Jesus took from the city of David to the Temple Mount and these are the stairs that he would preach on. Imagine! I touched and then sat on the stairs and could ‘feel’ a strong and comforting feeling.
Me and Ambassador Grenell on a camel.
We were honored to visit the brand new US Embassy in Jerusalem, dedicated by US Ambassador David Friedman. We are pictured here with US Ambassador Friedman (Israel), Ambassador Richard Grenell (Germany), Ambassador Gordon D. Sondland (EU), Ambassador George E. Glass (Portugal), Ambassador Ed McMullin (Switzerland/Lichtenstein), Ambassador Jamie McCourt (France), Paul Packer, Aryeh Lightstone, Elan Carr, and of course, my darling Alan Hamel.
This is the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus spent his last night, knowing he would be killed in the morning. Scientists have been able to prove by the roots that these were the same olive trees that stood 2,000 years ago.
Very proud of my friend Richard Grenell, US Ambassador to Germany, who invited us on this incredible trip. He is a remarkable man who believes in what is just and right, and not what is political. On another note, I loved wearing this dress my daughter Leslie designed for me.
The trip culminated in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu‘s office. What a week. It wasn’t a vacation, it was an experience. I will never be the same. I was affected by the profundity of Auschwitz and its ramifications and the light and holiness of Jerusalem, the central holy land of many religions. I hope you enjoyed this trip with me.