The Days of Remembrance are upon us. Most people are familiar with Yom Hashoah, the nationally recognized Holocaust Remembrance Day, but did you know that there are official days of remembrance commissioned by the United States Congress?
An executive order signed by President Carter in 1978 created the President’s Commission on the Holocaust, chaired by famed survivor Elie Wiesel, with a mandate to investigate the creation and maintenance of a memorial to victims of the Holocaust and an appropriate annual commemoration in their memory. After research and reports by the commission, the United States Holocaust Memorial Council was established to create an annual national civic Holocaust commemoration, and to oversee the creation of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (“USHMM”). In 1980, Congress established the Days of Remembrance as the nation’s official annual week of Holocaust commemoration.
This year, the Days of Remembrance begin today, April 15, 2012 and last until Sunday, April 22.
The Days of Remembrance are nationally recognized, yet separate and apart from the International Holocaust Remembrance Day. In 2005 the UN General Assembly designated January 27—the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau—as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. On this annual day of commemoration, every member state of the UN has an obligation to honor the victims of the Nazi era and to develop educational programs to help prevent future genocides.
About the Days of Remembrance from the USHMM:
In accordance with its Congressional mandate, the Museum is responsible for leading the nation in commemorating the Days of Remembrance, and for encouraging and sponsoring appropriate observances throughout the United States.
Observances and remembrance activities can occur during the week of Remembrance that runs from the Sunday before Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom Hashoah) through the following Sunday (view the Remembrance Day Calendar). Days of Remembrance are observed by state and local governments, military bases, workplaces, schools, churches, synagogues, and civic centers.
The internationally recognized date comes from the Hebrew calendar and corresponds to the 27th day of Nisan on that calendar. It marks the anniversary of the Warsaw ghetto uprising. In Hebrew, Holocaust Remembrance Day is called Yom Hashoah. When the actual date of Yom Hashoah falls on a Friday, the state of Israel observes Yom Hashoah on the preceding Thursday. When it falls on a Sunday, Yom Hashoah is observed on the following Monday.
Since 1982, the Museum has organized and led the national Days of Remembrance ceremony in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda, with Holocaust survivors, liberators, members of Congress, White House officials, the diplomatic corps, and community leaders in attendance.