“We must never forget.”
That bittersweet phrase, often repeated on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, was the code by which author, journalist and outspoken Jewish activist Elie Wiesel lived.
The Romanian Nobel Peace Prize laureate and ardent Holocaust educator -- perhaps best known for his moving memoir “Night,” about surviving brutal life in the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz -- died on Saturday at 87.
An outpouring of emotion for Wiesel swept social media Saturday afternoon, where writers, entertainers and others vowed not to forget him.
On his Facebook page, Dan Rather called Wiesel “a hero” and “a friend,” adding that “our global moral conscience has lost some of its strength today.”
“The passing of Elie Wiesel is a reminder that arguably mankind's darkest chapter is receding from the direct memory of those still alive,” Rather wrote. “Wiesel was determined that those alive now, and those still yet unborn, should never forget the horrors of the Holocaust, horrors he witnessed personally and then shared with the world for the rest of his life.”
On Twitter, the tributes poured in. Actor-singer Ben Platt and comedian Richard Lewis were particularly emotional.
“Orange is the New Black” actress-comedian Lea DeLaria retweeted New York State Atty. Gen. Eric T. Schneiderman, while Larry King said on Twitter that he knew Wiesel personally.
Author Dan Epstein and playwright-actress Mara Wilson put it simply but poignantly:
Like so many, actor-producer Mark Duplass had read Wiesel’s “Night” as a teenager:
The ephemeral, digital memories stacked, one after the other, on Twitter. But another remembrance sentiment remains set in stone.
Under President Carter, Wiesel was appointed as chairman of the Presidential Commission on the Holocaust in 1978 and he helped form Washington, D.C.’s U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Wiesel’s words are now permanently displayed at the museum’s entrance: "For the dead and the living, we must bear witness.”
Wiesel will not be forgotten.
Follow me on Twitter: @DebVankin