Memorial Ceremony

Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, Israel
February 24, 2012
By C. L. Max Nikias

The eternal flame that will soon be rekindled is the flame of memory.

It is the memory of those whose lives were cast and extinguished in the crucible of inhumanity.

We recall their joy and laughter, and their dreams and aspirations – all silenced as the world stood silent.

This silence reminds us of our enduring responsibilities to them and to those who cry out today.

Hope lives not merely when we remember, but when we marshal the will to repel the despair of death. And only then shall we witness the death of despair.

As the President of the University of Southern California, I am honored and humbled to be the custodian of the USC Shoah Foundation Institute’s archive.

The testimonials of more than 50,000 survivors of the Holocaust give voice to the voiceless and life to the lifeless in the kingdom of memory.

As we rekindle this flame in Jerusalem, we renew our sacred commitment to the archive and rededicate our efforts to research, learn, and teach its many lessons.

We will not rest until every student and faculty member of USC becomes a true ambassador for humanity.

And we will work to ensure that the common call of “Never again!” is met by uncommon resolve to push back the tides of hatred that threaten to engulf every shore.

In memory of those we lost, we will not fail. We will not falter. We will not forget.

Before we enter the Hall of Remembrance, I want to express my gratitude to the dedicated team at Yad Vashem for hosting us today.

Moreover, I want to express my profound appreciation for your tireless work in keeping the flame of memory alive and for being such willing partners in our shared mission of education.

It is now my honor, on behalf of the faculty, staff, and students at USC, and all of the witnesses whose testimony rests in the Shoah Foundation Institute’s archive, to join my wife, Niki, in leading our delegation into the Hall of Remembrance, where I will rekindle the eternal flame.