Monday, April 20, 2009

Sitting in the rain watching Bill Clinton at the Holocaust Museum

On Sunday, April 19th, Bill Clinton was in Skokie, Illinois for the opening of the new Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center.

Skokie is a suburb of Chicago, and since I live in Chicago, and was drawn in by Bill Clinton and I attended the opening ceremony.

Although it was raining, freezing cold, and I was stuck in the "overflow" tent, it was a really nice event and I am glad that I went! I learned a lot from hearing all the speakers and watching the videos.

I learned that outside of Israel, Skokie has the highest number of Jews than anywhere else. I also learned that because of this, 30 years ago a gorup of NeoNazis targeted Skokie and planned to have an anti-semitism march there. The mayor at that time rallied the community and stood against the NeoNazi's. And because of that, the Nazi's never were able to spread their hate though the community of Skokie.

I was shocked when I saw a group of NeoNazi's rallying outside of the event, protesting the construction of the museum. They held signs that were full of hateful words. As I rode by on the bus after the ceremony, I flipped them off. Don't know if that was appropriate but I don't really care...

During the ceremony there was a video address from both President Obama as well as Hillary Clinton, which was a very unexpected surprise!

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn spoke, as well as German Abassador to the U.S. Klaus Scharioth, Elie Wiesel and of course Bill Clinton.

When Bill finally came out (which seemed like forever because we were freezing under a tent for 3 hours waiting!) he mentioned that he was backstage for the end of the program and touring the museum for the beginning half.

I got the first half of his speech on film but then my camera died. Plus, I wouldn't even post it because I was so cold that my entire body was shaking, thus my hand was shaking, so its really blurry! Also, the rain coming down made it hard to hear with all the fuzzy background noise.

Bill spoke a LOT about his foundation and his work. He talked about Darfur and Bosnia and other human rights issues that went on during his Presidency as well as today.

He did mention Hillary in his speech. He said that he talked to Hillary at their home that morning. He was like:

"I got here just in time to see Hillary's videotape... She called me right before I left our home today, and I said 'Remember now, I'm going to this Holocaust Museum' and she said 'I know, tell them I said hello.' So I said, 'If you think you can't make up with Hugo Chavez and those other guys... that's a tea party compared.' And we're laughing but I'm serious."

Here is the full 25 min speech of Bill's as well as Holocaust survivor, author and prefessor, Elie Weisel:

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