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By Martin Lamarque

About this blog: I have lived in Belle Haven since 1997, and work as an interpreter in the emergency department of a county hospital. My main interest is to help improve society by way of giving families the support and information they need to ra...  (More)

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From Belle Haven to Auschwitz

Uploaded: Mar 7, 2015
A couple of days ago, as he was about to board a train for Poland, my son called to tell us that he was well, and that he was going to go visit Auschwitz.

?I have been preparing myself mentally to finally go see the place,? he told me.

As far as I know, there is no Jewish people in our ancestry. But we have tried to raise kids who are aware of history, and of how history explains what happens in the world today. This is the best antidote against seeing your kids grow up and --God forbids-- one day join some horde of ignorant like those so prevalent in today?s political scene.

After we hung up, I could not help experiencing a whole new level of pride in my son, and the tears started to flow. Tears of joy and gratitude.

To hear him grasp that getting to see the infamous concentration camp is the solemn act that it needs to be, and not only an interesting place to visit, speaks of someone who has been able to hold on to a crucial connection to his humanity, often referred to as empathy. That ability to put yourself in someone else?s shoes to try to understand what they go through, and something that more and more of us fail to cultivate in our children.

Excuse me for getting touchy-feeling here.

See, as someone who by the time of high school age already counted among his experiences 10 months of homelessness, never, not even in my wildest dreams did I foresee that one day I would be bragging about the amazing kids I ended up with.

In fact, childhood for me and for the kids I grew up had been so harsh, that early on I had intended to never bring a child into such a cruel world.

But life happens, and one day I ended up with a smart and beautiful little girl in my life. At this point I had to make the conscious effort to see it to that I provided her with a life experience that would have to be almost diametrically opposed to the one I had experienced.

Along the way, many friends helped me make sure my shortcomings from what scientists now identify as toxic stress in childhood didn?t interfere too much with my ability to give my daughter the love, attention and patience that every child needs to thrive in life. It didn?t hurt of course, that she was born to a mother with no other agenda than dedicating herself to care for her daughter physically and emotionally.

Raising children can be a trying and complex project. Had not been for my luck in running into Sara Woodsmith and Patty Wipfler from Hand-in-Hand many years ago, ours would have been a very different story. From them I learned the skills to emotionally connect to my children early on, and this made all the difference in our lives.

The semester my son is doing in Austria is a program made possible by the University of Redlands. But how he ended up going to Redlands was a combination of support from a number of people and organizations that we are forever indebted to:

The Foundation for a College Education in East Palo Alto (FCE) that precisely today is celebrating 20 years of sending kids to college. One of their volunteers and fellow Director?s Board member (who is also a college coach and donates her time to FCE?s students) helped my son identify Redlands as a good match for his skills and interests.

The Pursuit of Excellence Scholarship has meant a great deal for our limited budget in meeting our share of college expenses.

That today my son is in Auschwitz paying homage to those who died because of the ignorance and intolerance of others, is just another proof of the great potential young people have when adults around them help them as they find their way in life--and in the process make sure their minds don?t get poisoned by the venom that surround us.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Tom Fuller, a resident of Atherton: Lloyden Park,
on Mar 8, 2015 at 5:06 am

Your article betrays quite a bit of ignorance and intolerance, too.

Posted by Martin Engel, a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest,
on Mar 8, 2015 at 3:22 pm

Tom Fuller, please forgive the scolding tone of what I am about to say. Perhaps you did not mean it that way.

This article is exactly about becoming aware of, and being sensitive to, "ignorance and intolerance." Mr. Lamarque has been willing to expose his passions in this blog. Chastising him for his candor and strong moral position seems, to me at least, tactless and unwarranted.

Being an emigre from Nazi Germany in the late '30s, and through the foresight and wisdom of my parents, escaping before we all ended up at Auschwitz, I can only express my sensitivities and appreciation for people and their children who wish to keep alive a memory so that humans do not permit this holocaust to ever happen again.

Also, precisely because living in Atherton, it would be especially appropriate for you to show tolerance, empathy and compassion for Mr. Lamarque, given his very challenging personal history.

With all due respect,


Posted by whatever, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park,
on Mar 8, 2015 at 4:06 pm

And to the author Mr. Lamarque
You might want to edit or delete your comment about the ignorant hordes of Republicans, NRA etc. Their ranks include many intelligent, thoughtful people. Overly broad generalizations rarely attract useful discussion.

Posted by Martin Lamarque, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Mar 8, 2015 at 6:19 pm

Martin Lamarque is a registered user.


You are right. I have taken your advice and edited the wording that as you wisely observed, does nothing to promote dialogue. And for the same reason, let's also remover your comment concerning Mr. Fuller.

@ Martin: Thanks for reading my blog, and for appreciating that it is not easy to put oneself out there and become a target; deservedly or not.

Posted by Louise68, a resident of Menlo Park: other,
on Mar 8, 2015 at 11:02 pm

Martin Lamarque ---
I am deeply touched by your blog. Thank you very, very much for sharing your personal history with us. Your story is very inspirational, and you knew better than to think that you could do it all by yourself. Yes, we all must learn the lessons of history so that we do not ever repeat the horrors of the past. Auschwitz was only one of many examples pf things we should never ever allow to be repeated.

You do have a lot to be proud of in how your son turned out. THAT is true wealth! You are rich beyond your wildest dreams in empathy and wisdom and humility and honesty. I love your blogs! Please keep sharing your thoughts. You are one of my favorite bloggers.

Investing in helping others is the very best investment anyone can ever make.

And it really does take a village to not just properly raise a child, but to keep any of us healthy and sane. We really do need each other.

Martin Engel --
I agree with you 100%. Very well said. Thank you.

Posted by Martin Lamarque, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Mar 9, 2015 at 6:40 am

Martin Lamarque is a registered user.

Posted by Martin Lamarque, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Mar 9, 2015 at 6:47 am

Martin Lamarque is a registered user.

@ Louise68:
Thanks for reading my blog, and for your words of encouragement.
We are just trying, and hopefully learning in the process.
Yesterday's March in Selma, with the entire GOP leadership snubbing such an important remembrance, is another proof that after all the progress we had made, there are strong currents trying to move the country backwards.

Posted by Martin Lamarque, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Mar 9, 2015 at 6:49 am

Martin Lamarque is a registered user.

Posted by I didn't know that, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park,
on Mar 9, 2015 at 8:43 pm

Mr. Lamarque:

I don't know with 100% certainty all of the people that attended the Selma March. Therefore, I cannot dispute your comment below:

"... the entire GOP leadership snubbing such an important remembrance, is another proof that after all the progress we had made, there are strong currents trying to move the country backwards."

Two things that I do know with 100% certainty though are that there was a top Republican at the Selma March as former President Bush was in attendance:

Web Link

The second thing I know for certain is that even though Eric Holder was in Paris at the time of the Unity March following the murders at Charlie Hebdo he did not attend the march. Neither did President Obama or Vice President Biden. The only American representative was the Ambassador to France.

Web Link

Was this failure to attend the unity march by a top Democratic leader also an example of the "strong currents trying to move the country backwards"? If so I missed your blog post about it.

Posted by Martin Lamarque, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Mar 9, 2015 at 9:13 pm

Martin Lamarque is a registered user.

@ I didn't know that

Thanks for reading my blog so carefully.
To answer at least one of your questions: No, the Selma part is only the latest one of examples evidencing the disregard Republicans have for anyone who isn't rich (and preferably White).
In referring to the "backward push", I was, for example, alluding to the fact that no other President and his family have received so many threats simply because of the color of their skin.
I was also thinking about the attack on Congresswoman Giffords, (injuring 19 people and killing 6,) and how Sara Palin had her and several other Democratic candidates represented as shooting targets in her campaign rants and propaganda.

I was thinking of "birthers" and "death panels" that Republicans so tacitly have endorsed.

Again. Thanks for reading, I wish I had more time to refresh your memory a little longer.

Posted by I didn't know that, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park,
on Mar 10, 2015 at 7:19 am

Mr. Lamarque:

My pleasure to read your blog so carefully. Unfortunately I cannot "read between the lines" well enough to insert Sarah Palin, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, "birthers", or "death panels" into your writings.

You give your readers too much credit - we only read your words - we cannot feel your anger.

And, by the way, I only asked one question in my post and you didn't answer it.

Posted by Martin Lamrque, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven,
on Mar 10, 2015 at 7:51 am

@ I didn't know that

My bad. You are right.
I didn't answer your question, not even got close to doing it.
I allowed my anger to zero in on your comparison of oranges to apples.

Posted by I didn't know that , a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park,
on Mar 10, 2015 at 9:30 pm

Mr. Lamarque:

Please educate me - I look forward to it. I don't think I was comparing apples an oranges.

I commented on you chastising "... the entire GOP leadership snubbing such an important remembrance, is another proof that after all the progress we had made, there are strong currents trying to move the country backwards." for not attending the Selma march. I also provided a reference that talked about President Bush and his wife being in attendance despite your claim of Republican absence.

Web Link

Then I asked if the absence of top democratic leaders at the Unity March in Paris when only the Ambassador to France was in attendance was also an example of "strong currents trying to move the country backwards"? and provided a reference.

Web Link

You say, meh " apples and oranges "

Selma March...Unity March
Innocents beaten...Innocents murdered
Bush family at Selma March...French Ambassador at Unity March

Help me understand how you have such strong feelings about the alleged "snub" of the Selma March yet don't seem to care about an actual "snub" of the Unity March. How are they so different?

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