March 17, 2010 Edition

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Frankly speaking...

Some of us thought it was a mistake at church Sunday, when learning of the death of Derek Bramlett's father, Robert. Sadly, it was not. Derek's mother, Linda Nell Bramlett, had died just eight days before her husband. Robert and Nell Bramlett lived in Jonesboro, and both of their deaths were sudden and unexpected. Derek, a Walnut Ridge School administrator and coach, is in the midst of a busy baseball season and school year. We join others in extending our sympathy to him, his wife Brooke, daughter Alli and to all their family members.

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I'd never heard of Vel d'Hiv until reading "Sarah's Key," a work of historic fiction written by French author Tatiana de Rosnay. The Vel d'Hiv began in the early hours of July 16, 1942, when thousands of Jewish men, woman and children were rounded up and taken to the Vˇlodrome d'Hiver, an indoor arena in Paris used for cycling races.

A few days later these Jewish families were moved to interment camps on the outskirts of Paris and then on to Auschwitz, the concentration or extermination camp in Nazi-occupied Poland.

The most disturbing part of the book is the part based on truth. At the orders of the Nazis, French police arrested the Jewish people, their fellow citizens, from their homes. While some of the French citizens expressed empathy, most were complacent, and probably fearful, and went on about their day as if the Vel d'Hiv was no big deal. Others laughed at the Jews' inhumane treatment.

Rosney confirmed that for many years, the Vel d'Hiv roundup was not taught in French schools, and many Paris citizens had never heard of it. It is now taught and more widely known there, in part because of "Sarah's Key."

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Not too many decades ago, the mistreatment and racial injustices toward African-Americans were generally overlooked and considered acceptable in parts of our country. It makes me wonder how I would have reacted if I'd been in Paris at the time of the Vel d'Hiv.

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I'm glad our citizens do not act with complacency about the needs in our own community. One of these needs was for the establishment of The Children's Shelter. The Shelter is in great need of our support and funds. A spaghetti supper and talent show fund-raiser for The Children's Shelter is planned for Saturday from 5-7 p.m. at the Hoxie School Cafeteria. It is our understanding that organizers hope to feature children in the talent show.

The Children's Shelter needs our continued support, and we cannot afford to be complacent about the needs and suffering that exists in our present day Lawrence County.

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