News From Terre Haute, Indiana


June 16, 2013

GUEST COLUMN: One Million Bones exhibit meant to raise awareness, inspire action to end genocide

TERRE HAUTE — The National Mall: A grassy corridor in Washington, D.C., lined with America’s greatest museums and monuments. Ending at the U.S. Capitol building, it is a symbol of our belief in the power and greatness of America. Last weekend, we turned it into a mass grave.

Along with my colleagues Eva Kor, Beth Nairn, and Alex Kor from CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center and Samantha and Indira Ivaturi of Terre Haute, I participated in a project called One Million Bones. OMB is a five-year project combining art and activism which culminated June 8-9 with the installation of one million handmade bones on the National Mall.

OMB is a vision of Naomi Natale, a young woman from Albuquerque, New Mexico, whom I worked with in a program called the Carl Wilkens Fellowship (more about Carl later).

To raise awareness and inspire action to end genocide, Naomi and her small but tireless team organized more than 100,000 participants in 30 countries and all 50 states to make bones in honor and memory of genocide victims and survivors. Those bones were transported to the mall (heroically by UPS) and ceremonially laid on the doorstep of Congress with an unmistakable message: A crime against humanity anywhere is a crime against humanity everywhere. We have a duty in preventing genocide. And this: We belong to each other. By working with our hands to create an element most basic to the constitution of every human being, we realize this truth in a new way.

So with the help of more than 1,000 volunteers, we set out more than one million bones in a sight never before seen in Washington, D.C. None of the bones were real human bones, but they stopped traffic just the same. And when looking at them, one couldn’t tell whether they were Christian bones, or Jewish bones, or Muslim, or African-American or Caucasian or Asian or Latino or African or homosexual or liberal or conservative or anything. They were just human.

In addition to the installation, the event brought together a powerful array of genocide survivors, scholars and activists who shared their insight through speeches and educational workshops. Go to or check out the One Million Bones Facebook page for info, photos, and videos from this weekend.

In addition to Eva Kor, one of the speakers was Mukesh Kapila, the UN official working in Sudan who first recognized that genocide was being carried out in the Darfur region. He blew the whistle, and lost his job because of it. Dr. Kapila made the point that genocide isn’t perpetrated by psychopaths, but rather by sane, organized, ordinary, educated men. And I do mean men: No genocide in history has been waged by women. So what happens in our hearts and minds that turns ordinary men into extraordinary killers? Fellas, we gotta get on this.

Dr. Kapila’s statement is actually good news, because it’s a problem we can study and solve. And we are making leaps and bounds in our understanding of genocide. Less than 100 years ago, the term genocide did not exist. It was illegal to kill one person, but not illegal to kill millions. Now we have entire university departments devoted to its study. We have a Genocide Prevention Task Force convened by non-governmental organizations and chaired by former Secretaries of State that has made many recommendations for how to recognize and short-circuit genocide in its early stages. We have a new Atrocities Prevention Board in the U.S. government. We’re making progress.

The naysayers will tell you otherwise, of course. Here’s the rundown: Just like the poor, genocide will always be with us. Don’t you know evil is a part of the human condition? In any case, individual action is too small and meaningless to change an international crisis. And it’s pointless to work with politicians anyway. Don’t you know the whole system is rife with corruption? Plus, why are these people in Africa or Asia our responsibility? Don’t you know charity begins at home? I’ll argue with all of these assertions (hit me up on Facebook or Twitter), but in this space let me ask the naysayers one question: Which of these excuses would you accept if it was your village being bombed, your mother or sister or wife being raped, your family being forced into a cattle car, your child being murdered?

Some of us accept the notion that we are powerless, doomed to be led around on a chain by our bosses, our government, our parents, our wounds, our DNA, whatever. I don’t accept that, and neither do my friends who participated in One Million Bones. The world is exactly how we have made it to be, and the moment we accept the premise that other people and forces control our lives and there’s nothing we can do about it, we cede our power. We cede it to people who will re-create the world through anger, fear and greed. We rationalize this concession by making the excuses I listed above, then we insulate ourselves from the pain of that choice by keeping up with the Kardashians.

I’m friends with a guy named Carl Wilkens. When the genocide broke out in Rwanda in 1994, Carl and his family were working in Rwanda for an Adventist relief agency. Though every other American in the country at the time was evacuated by the Embassy, Carl and his wife Teresa made a joint decision: Carl would stay in Rwanda. Maybe he could help. And he did. Through his gutsiness and steadfast belief in the goodness of people, Carl helped keep alive hundreds of orphans and many others by bringing food, water and supplies. One of those he helped is now a peacekeeper in the Darfur region of Sudan. Tell Carl he is powerless and should just give up.

In D.C. I met a woman named Neema Namadamu. Neema was born in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, where dreadful sexual violence is used as a weapon of war against women and girls. Though Neema contracted polio as a little girl and now uses crutches and a wheelchair, nothing can slow her down. She has worked to empower people with disabilities and has started her own broadcasting network in DRC to give voice to the strong women who have survived sexual violence. Tell Neema she is powerless and should just give up.

I work with a woman named Eva Kor. Eva was born in the middle of nowhere and as a 10-year-old child outsmarted the Nazis and survived Auschwitz. Though everyone in her family but her and her twin sister were murdered, she rebuilt her life, forgave the Nazis, founded a museum (and rebuilt it after it was firebombed), and serves as a source of inspiration for countless people. Tell Eva she is powerless and should just give up.

Neither Carl, Neema, nor Eva are superhuman, and none of them are perfect. Rather, all of them are perfectly human. If they have that power, we all have that power. The difference is they realized their power, and so they never give up because they know there’s always something we can do. It’s a choice, and we can make it, too.

I’m not promising you quick success. After all, this is about articulating an alternate vision for life on Planet Earth. Working to prevent genocide is a daily grind that can take a toll on our well-being and the well-being of our loved ones. I’m surprised more people haven’t unfriended me on Facebook from the constant stream of news about the Holocaust, Sudan, Burma, Congo, and other crises. As Naomi Natale said in her speech on the National Mall: “These bones are inconvenient. They are uncomfortable, and it’s so much easier to look away.”

That’s why I’m so thankful for my Facebook friends. You don’t look away. Many of you kept up with our One Million Bones activities throughout the weekend via my Facebook posts. Your interest is a testament to our shared belief that we can make a difference. Your likes, comments, and shares encourage all of us working on this issue, and your visible activity on Facebook and Twitter brings us closer to a world without genocide.

See, there are no easy answers. That’s why we need to crowd-source the problem. The more people who are thinking about genocide and mass atrocities, the more likely we are to come up with creative and powerful responses. And that’s one of the major accomplishments of One Million Bones: Thousands upon thousands of new people are now engaged in the conversation. Now that you’re in the conversation, here’s what you can do: 1) Educate yourself. 2) Speak out. 3) Donate for humanitarian relief. 4) Ask policymakers to do the right thing. 5) Keep trying.

I believe we are on the threshold of a leap in consciousness. It’s on the proverbial tip of our tongue, and we’re going to get there. If I don’t have the answer, maybe you do. But how will you know if I never inform you? So share. Spread the word. Go public, go viral, go crazy. You never know.

Kiel Majewski is Executive Director of CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Terre Haute. He can be reached at, or on Twitter: @kielmajewski.


Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • wefight.jpg Feeling carried: Filmmaker captures late uncle’s walk through illness and into ‘whatever is next’

    Paul Fleschner sensed a remarkable strength as he filmed his beloved uncle one final time.

    July 12, 2014 2 Photos

  • EDITORIAL: Dysfunctional relationship with schools chief doesn’t bode well for potential Pence presidency

    A window to the future may be unfolding in Indiana.

    July 12, 2014

  • Readers’ Forum: July 13, 2014

    • Telling the truth about smoking
    • Larger energy bills on the way, thanks to EPA
    • Embrace the compassion, not self-righteousness
    • Wondering about country’s leaders
    • New amendments have hurt country

    July 12, 2014

  • FLASHPOINT: EPA proposal will have little impact on environment, but could hurt coal industry

    I recently signed on as an original co-sponsor to a bipartisan bill led by one of my Democrat colleagues from West Virginia that would stop the newly released Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations on existing coal-generated power plants.

    July 12, 2014

  • RONN MOTT: Troubled history in that place called Iraq

    People are dying, again, in Iraq. And, again, people other than Iraqis will ultimately make the decision about what happens to this ancient land.

    July 11, 2014

  • Editorial: The Bennett ‘settlement’

    It takes a special kind of arrogance to flout ethics laws in the manner which former state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett has violated them. Even when he finally admitted his transgressions, he claimed he could have avoided the matter altogether had he just changed the department’s ethics policy before engaging in the troublesome conduct.
    In essence, this was the old “mistakes were made” acknowledgment of wrongdoing. And the real mistake to which Bennett admits was apparently not changing the rules before he violated them. This is a truly Nixonian moment.

    July 10, 2014

  • Readers’ Forum: July 11, 2014

    July 10, 2014

  • Ronn Mott.jpg RONN MOTT: That Old Man River

    I was surprised to learn the people in Cairo are now taking water taxis to avoid the traffic, the confusion and the dangers that are appearing on Cairo, Egypt’s, streets. I mean, I was surprised the people in Cairo, these native Egyptians, were surprised they could take a water taxi and get to where they wanted to go using the Nile River as a highway. So, for the Egyptians living in Cairo, everything old is brand new again.

    July 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • EDITORIAL: A green idea worth pursuing

    It sounds like a blue-ribbon idea.

    July 9, 2014

  • READERS' FORUM: July 10, 2014

    • Herb Faire a great success

    • Appreciation for a ‘lovely angel’

    • Thanks for stirring fireworks show

    July 9, 2014

  • tstribunestar EDITORIAL: Be safe, be responsible

    The Independence Day weekend brought a brief respite in construction work on area roadways. In particular, it provided needed relief to the congested segment of Interstate 70 in Clay County that is undergoing resurfacing this summer.

    July 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • Readers’ Forum: July 9, 2014

    • Don’t eliminate our six-day mail

    • Zamperini death stirs memories

    July 8, 2014

  • RONN MOTT: Black Dog

    We had some excitement around our house the other day and it was not the good kind.
    There was a small dog, black in color with a spiked collar on his neck, and he was the spitting image of a small Doberman. I don’t know if they have miniature Dobermans but this dog could have been a mixed breed that came out looking like a Doberman although smaller.

    July 8, 2014

  • Readers’ Forum: July 8, 2014

    • T-S ignores common decency

    • Lighten up on Donald Sterling

    • Time to reject Dems in Congress

    Fueling the EPA

    July 7, 2014

  • MS. TAKES: Great music is made during all generations

    Number Two son tells us that his 20-year-old son has been listening to “Big Band” music with apparent enjoyment. As if that wasn’t enough of a surprise, I was talking with a young girl, barely out of her teens and she told us that she really wasn’t into rap. She said, “It isn’t really music, it’s just talk.”

    July 7, 2014

  • Readers’ Forum: July 7, 2014

    • The moral issue is major issue

    July 6, 2014

  • tstribunestar Editorial: City financial health demands an open, honest discussion

    Obscured by the recent rift over use of departmental funds in the city of Terre Haute’s budget are serious issues related to our city government’s overall financial health. The answers may be mired in the complexity of municipal finance, but coming to grips with the situation is important to the city’s future.

    July 6, 2014 1 Photo

  • Readers’ Forum: July 6, 2014

    • Coats ignoring climate science

    • Do those mustache posters exist?

    • Utility rate freeze took determination

    • What perversion is next in line?

    • Opinions vary, but voters will decide

    • This preaching must stop — now

    • Golf fundraiser a huge success

    July 6, 2014

  • Flashpoint: State’s lawyer has duty to represent state in marriage lawsuit appeal

    Recent federal court actions that first struck down Indiana’s statute limiting marriage to the traditional definition, and then stayed that order pending appeal, have left many in our state in legal limbo. As the attorney who represents state government and defends its laws, I know this difficult case stirs many people’s deeply held beliefs that touch their lives in very personal ways. Not since my office had to represent the state in lawsuits arising from the State Fair disaster has a dispute been so seemingly impossible to address in a way that the public would accept as being fair to all concerned.

    July 6, 2014

  • Flashpoint: The Supreme Court decision and ‘closely held’ corporations

    The much awaited Supreme Court decision in Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby came down this week. The court ruled in a 5-4 decision that the 1993 Religious Freedom and Restoration Act (RFRA) does cover “closely held” corporations, even if those corporations are for profit.

    July 6, 2014

  • RONN MOTT: Learning more about Jefferson

    During this Fourth of July weekend, I’ll be reading John Meacham’s biography of Thomas Jefferson.

    July 4, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Celebrate your independence

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
    As eloquent and declaratory as that statement is, implementing its principles has been a decades-long pursuit for these United States of America. Our nation, it seems, is the quintessential work in progress, even though what this country has created in terms of a stable, collective society is, let’s face it, pretty darn good.

    July 3, 2014

  • Readers’ Forum: July 4, 2014

    July 3, 2014

  • Ronn Mott.jpg RONN MOTT: The Men Who Made the Country

    The Fourth of July is the day we celebrate our independence from Great Britain. It reminds me of something David Ben-Gurion would say, at a much later date, about British rule: “If you have to have a master, the British are about as good at it as anybody.” Of course, we really don’t need a master.

    July 3, 2014 1 Photo

  • MET 033114 GREG ZOELLER MUG.jpg GREG ZOELLER: State’s lawyer has duty to represent state in marriage lawsuit appeal

    Recent federal court actions that first struck down Indiana’s statute limiting marriage to the traditional definition, and then stayed that order pending appeal, have left many in our state in legal limbo.

    July 3, 2014 1 Photo

  • Readers’ Forum: July 3, 2014

    • Over the top on immigration

    July 2, 2014

  • FLASHPOINT: HIP 2.0 gives consumers better choices

    On Wednesday, the State of Indiana submitted its proposal for the Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0 to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

    July 2, 2014

  • Gov. Mike Pence (R, Ind.) MIKE PENCE: HIP 2.0 gives consumers better choices

    Today, the state of Indiana submitted its proposal for the Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0 to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
    If approved, the Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0 would replace traditional Medicaid for low-income, able-bodied Hoosier adults. Unlike traditional Medicaid, which is government-driven, HIP 2.0 is consumer-driven.

    July 2, 2014 1 Photo

  • Editorial: Texting law serves safety

    July 1 each year marks the day in Indiana when new laws take effect. But rather than focus on new laws today, let’s observe the anniversary of a law that went on the books three years ago this month — the law that barred texting while driving.

    July 1, 2014

  • Readers’ Forum: July 2, 2014

    July 1, 2014

Latest News Poll
AP Video
Joy Fills Streets of Cleveland As LeBron Returns Raw: Stunning Timelapse of WC Final Host City Texas Shooting Suspect Collapses in Court LeBron: Move Back to Cleveland 'Exciting' World Cup Final Pits Argentina Against Germany Raw: Israel, Gaza Exchange Rocket Fire Israel Widens Attack As Gaza Death Toll Rises Raw: Militants, Israelis Exchange Rocket Fire Raw: Airstrike Creates Chaos on Gaza Streets Netherlands Beats Host Brazil 3-0 to Finish 3rd Robot Writes Jewish Torah Scroll Diaz and Segel Strip Off for 'Sex Tape' WH: LeBron's Move a 'Powerful Statement' Raw: Brazil Fans Cry After World Cup Loss Arizona Mom of Missing Baby Released From Prison Ana Ortiz on 'Devious Maids' Finale Death Toll Tops 100 As Israel Offense Continues Raw: Airstrike Creates Chaos on Gaza Streets Argentina to Face Germany in World Cup Final Proposed Bill to Regulate NY Costumed Characters
NDN Video
Cellphone Video Shows Assault Tracy Morgan released from rehab month after crash LeBron: Move Back to Cleveland 'Exciting' Cleveland welcomes home LeBron Houston Killer Collapses in Court When Read Capital Murder Charges for Allegedly Killing Family of Six Worst Valet Ever Wrecks $500K Lamborghini Glee Star Becca Tobin's Boyfriend Matt Bendik Found Dead in Hotel Aerial fish restocking in Utah ScarJo Channels Marilyn Monroe Obama Responds to Hecklers on Immigration Tiny Hamsters Who Ate Burritos are Back for a Tiny Hedgehog's Party Watch Kelly Ripa Get Soaked! 'Referee' Hands Out Yellow Cards for Social Faux Pas in NYC 2014 Emmy Nominees: 8 Snub Shockers Emma Watson Is Va-Va-Voom in Valentino 7 Infamous Sports Blowouts Argentina tops Holland in World Cup semifinals News flush: Japanese toilet exhibition making a splash Emmy Nominations: What to Watch For 'Game of Thrones' Leads 66th Emmy Awards Nominations

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -


    March 12, 2010