For the past five years now, the Council of Young Jewish Presidents (CYJP) has hosted the largest Jewish community-wide Memorial Day Ceremony in the New York metropolitan area. Each year an esteemed Jewish veteran serves as the keynote speaker. Past speakers have included Col. Jack Jacobs and General Robert Magnus. This year’s guest speaker was Retired Major General Sidney Schachnow.
Jacob Goldstein, colonel and Army Reserve chaplain, introduced the keynote speaker, Sidney Shachnow, a retired major general of the U.S. Army and a former commanding general of U.S. Army Special Forces Command… Wearing a camouflage yarmulke given to him by Goldstein, the general said: “As a Holocaust survivor, I am forever grateful to the World War II generation for their courage and sacrifices. The GI became a liberator. I, consequently, a survivor. I was born in Lithuania. Within the first 30 days of the German occupation of its capital, Kovno, or Kaunas, 10,000 Jews were murdered. The irony is that they were not murdered by the Germans but by neighbors, friends and fellow Lithuanians. Lithuania had the highest killing rate of all Nazi-occupied areas: 96%! Of Kovno’s 160,000 citizens, a quarter were Jews. Of the original 40,000 Jews, only 2,000 of us survived. I could not wait to get out of Lithuania fast enough!”