Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss! (1904-1991)

Dr. Seuss postage stamp

Theodor Geisel aka Dr. Seuss was featured on a 37-cent postage stamp in 2003.

Theodor Seuss Geisel was born on March 2, 1904, in Springfield, Massachusetts. He published his first children’s book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, under the name of Dr. Seuss in 1937.

His early career began in advertising.  His articles and illustrations were published in various magazines including Life and Vanity Fair.

He also contributed to the war effort by creating animated training films and drawing propaganda posters.

Political Cartoon - Holocaust in France

Over 70 years ago on July 20, the cartoonist known as Dr. Seuss drew a forest filled with corpses hanging from the trees, with a sign reading “Jew” pinned to each body. Adolf Hitler, with extra rope draped on his arm, and Vichy leader Pierre Laval were shown singing happily. Read more on the JNS.org blog written by Dr. Rafael Medoff. Credit: The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies.

 

According to Bio.com, “A major turning point in Geisel’s career came when, in response to a 1954 LIFE magazine article that criticized children’s reading levels, Houghton Mifflin and Random House asked him to write a children’s primer using 220 vocabulary words. The resulting book, The Cat in the Hat, was published in 1957 and was described by one critic as a “tour de force.” The success of The Cat in the Hat cemented Geisel’s place in children’s literature.”

Author and illustrator of 46 children’s books, Dr. Seuss is one of the most well-known and beloved authors of all time, with his work having been adapted into 11 TV specials, four feature films, a Broadway musical, four television series and a theme park over the years.

Prolific and adored, he won the Pulitzer Price, a Peabody and an Academy Award (for a documentary), and his works have been translated into more than 20 languages with sales of over 600 millions copies worldwide.

 Here are some quotes from Dr. Seuss:

“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”

“Why fit in when you’re born to stand out?”

Dr. Seuss' Cat in the Hat

The famous Cat in the Hat

“You’ll miss the best things if you keep your eyes shut.

“Today is your day. Your mountain is waiting. So … get on your way.

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.

“If things start happening, don’t worry, don’t stew, just go right along and you’ll start happening too.

“A person’s a person, no matter how small.

“It is better to know how to learn than to know.

“Be who you are and say what you mean. Because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

“You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And you are the one who’ll decide where to go.”

“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living; it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life’s realities.”Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.”

“To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world.”
“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”

“Life’s too short to wake up with regrets. So love the people who treat you right, forgive the ones who don’t and believe that everything happens for a reason. If you get a chance, take it. If it changes your life, let it. Nobody said it’d be easy, they just promised it would be worth it.”
“Fun is good.”

International Holocaust Remembrance Day

International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which is observed on January 27, 2015, is an international memorial day for the victims of the Holocaust. Holocaust is the genocide that resulted in the annihilation of six million European Jews as well as millions of others by the Nazi regime. The day was designated by the United Nations General Assembly Resolution on November 1, 2005.

The Resolution establishing January 27 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day urges every member nation of the U.N. to honor the memory of Holocaust victims, and encourages the development of educational programs about Holocaust history to help prevent future acts of genocide. It rejects any denial of the Holocaust as an event and condemns all manifestations of religious intolerance, incitement, harassment or violence against persons or communities based on ethnic origin or religious belief.

January 27 is the date, in 1945, when the largest Nazi death camp (Auschwitz-Birkenau), was liberated by Soviet troops. This camp was a network of Nazi concentration and extermination camps built and operated by the Third Reich in Polish areas annexed by Nazi Germany during World War II. It was the largest of the German concentration camps.

The gas chambers of Birkenau were blown up by the SS in an attempt to hide the German crimes from the advancing Soviet troops. The SS command sent orders on January 17, 1945 calling for the execution of all prisoners remaining in the camp, but in the chaos of the Nazi retreat the order was never carried out. On January 17, 1945, Nazi personnel started to evacuate the facility. (With material from: Wikipedia.)

Despite this terrible blight on the human condition, there is hope.  Hope was found in the diary of a young girl:  Anne Frank.

Anne Frank quote

This teenager’s diary is one of the most celebrated pieces of literature.

Honoring Anne Frank’s Birthday

by Rebecca Faulkner – April 28, 2014
 

Looking out of the window of her secret annex, Anne Frank saw beauty in a chestnut tree as the horrors of the Holocaust were closing in on her and her family. See how saplings from that tree are helping to plants seeds of tolerance all over the world.

If Anne Frank were alive today, June 12, 2014, she would be 85 years old.  Thanks to her diary and saplings from the white chestnut tree that grew outside her attic window, she will live forever.  

 
Anne Frank (Photo: AFF/Basel)

Anne Frank (Photo: AFF/Basel)

 

From her only window to the outside world, Anne Frank could see the sky, the birds, and a majestic chestnut tree. “As long as this exists,” Anne wrote in her diary, “how can I be sad?” During the two years she spent in the secret annex, the solace Anne found in her chestnut tree provided a powerful contrast to the Holocaust unfolding beyond her attic window. And as war narrowed in on Anne and her family, her tree became a vivid reminder that a better world was possible.

Anne’s tree would outlive its namesake by more than 50 years, before succumbing to disease and a windstorm in August 2010. But today, thanks to dozens of saplings propagated in the months before its death, Anne’s tree lives on in cities and towns around the world.

In the United States, The Anne Frank Center USA’s Sapling Project is bringing 11 of these precious trees to specially selected locations across the country. As the saplings take root, they will emerge as living monuments to Anne’s pursuit of peace and tolerance. In the process, they will serve as powerful reminders of the horrors borne by hate and bigotry and the need for collective action in the face of injustice.

Anne’s tree was a white horse chestnut tree, of a variety found throughout the Northern hemisphere. At the time of its demise, it was over 170 years old, making it one of the oldest trees of its kind in Amsterdam. Throughout that period, it stood in the courtyard garden of number 188 Keizersgracht—right outside of Anne’s secret annex window.

“Our chestnut tree is in full bloom. It’s covered with leaves and is even more beautiful than last year.” — Anne Frank’s diary, May 13, 1944

As decades passed, the majestic tree became infected with a moth and fungus infestation. Determined not to let the tree be lost forever, The Anne Frank House in Amsterdam decided, with the permission of the tree’s owner, to gather chestnuts, germinate them, and donate the saplings to schools and organizations dedicated to Anne Frank.

In 2009, the Anne Frank Center USA (AFC) received 11 of those saplings with plans to plant them across the United States. After a lengthy selection process, the AFC chose planting sites which memorialize incidences of intolerance and discrimination and share its mission to promote equal rights and mutual respect. The sites include: Little Rock Central High School and the William J. Clinton Presidential Center in Arkansas; Sonoma State University in California; the Wassmuth Center for Human Rights in Idaho; The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis; Boston Common; the Holocaust Memorial Center in Michigan; Liberty Park Commemorating 9/11 in New York City; the Southern Cayuga School District in New York State; the Washington State Holocaust Education Resource Center, and the West Front Lawn of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

After a three-year quarantine, the saplings were cleared for planting in 2013. Holocaust survivors, school children, and local dignitaries attended the public dedications of these saplings, which were celebratory and deeply moving events that remind us how tolerance can grow in the face of bigotry and racism.

Congressional leaders will plant the next sapling this Wednesday, April 30th, on the West Front Lawn of the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. The remaining five saplings are scheduled to be planted in 2015. In conjunction with the plantings, AFC has launched a “Confronting Intolerance Today” speaker series to showcase global approaches to combating intolerance.

As Americans, we sometimes think of the horrors of the Holocaust as events that only happen in far off places and not on our own shores. But the United States has its own human rights issues, as evidenced by treatment of Native Americans, slavery, segregation, and by the ongoing struggle for full civil rights for women and people of color. These chapters in our shared history become the stories from which today’s generation can learn to fight intolerance in all forms, to identify prejudice, stereotyping, polarization, and to advocate for a world based on mutual respect. By attending a planting ceremony or a “Confronting Intolerance Today” event, you can help honor Anne’s vision of a more just world.

Rebecca Faulkner is the Special Projects Manager for The Anne Frank Center USA.

Visit the Sapling Project website for information on where the next event is taking place. You can also join the discussion on the Speak Up! page to participate in a dialogue on topics as diverse as the inequalities in the American justice system, genocide in South Sudan, poverty across the United States, and the rights of the LGBT community.