October 3, 2013
by C. L. Max Nikias

Good evening. On behalf of the University of Southern California, it is a special privilege to welcome you all to tonight’s gala.

Earlier, the importance of this event was matched by the grace with which Sandra Bullock opened this evening. Bob Katz and Steve Cozen have also proven to be true pillars of the Shoah Foundation and tonight’s dinner, across whose shoulders unconditional support has always lain.

In George Clooney, courage has a brother in its stand against genocide. May his Ambassador for Humanity Award be a beacon of fortitude as we seek to banish the specter of intolerance that still haunts every corner of our world.

Tonight, as we gather to learn and reflect, the memory of those whose lives were extinguished on the altar of inhumanity in the last century hangs heavily over us.

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

The kingdom of memory is not only a realm of reflection, but a wellspring of will we must harness to protect and preserve this generation and all that follow it. The archive’s testimonies are guardians of this kingdom, living chronicles of the perils of hatred and indifference. They teach us that when vigilance fades, victimization follows.

I want to assure you that, l’dor va’dor – “from generation to generation” – my university will forever safeguard the precious, life-affirming testimonies of the Shoah Foundation’s visual history archive.

And we will work to make certain 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 today. In memory of the generation that fell before us, we will not fail. We will not falter. We will not forget.

I want to express my profound appreciation for our trustee Steven Spielberg. He stands at the vanguard in keeping the flame of memory alive, which now kindles our shared mission of education.

And when we stand together, we ensure that no one confronting the indignity of intolerance in our age stands alone. In doing so, we forever preserve the kingdom of memory against those who would assault decency and civility.