Henry Kay survived a concentration camp because the Nazis needed children to make weapons. Now, children of a more peaceful era will learn the lessons of his life and the lives of other Holocaust victims.
Kay was present Friday when Gov. Lawton Chiles signed into law a requirement that Florida pupils learn about the slaughter of Jews and others during World War II.
"I would never have dreamed of being here," the 64-year-old Kay said. "It's actions like today that give us the hope that the Holocaust will become a recognized part of history--to help humanity earn its name."
Politicians, Jewish leaders and students attended the bill-signing ceremony at Miami Beach City Hall. Traditional Jewish prayers, songs and speeches reduced some people to tears.
"The souls of those who perished in the Holocaust still cry out for justice--not through retribution, but through education and enlightenment--the truest enemies of tyranny and brutality," Chiles said.
The law requires that the history of the Holocaust show the results of prejudice and the need to protect democracy.
Similar laws have been passed in California, Illinois and Washington. Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina and South Carolina have laws creating advisory councils on Holocaust education.
The new curriculum, which takes effect July 1, will be directed at the state's half-million high school students, but may also be used in middle schools, said Debi Gallay of the Education Department.
Rositta E. Kenigsberg, the executive vice president of the Holocaust Documentation and Education Center Inc., said education is the only way to keep alive the memory of the slaughter of 6 million people.
"As long as there is someone to tell the story, there is life," Kenigsberg said. "As long as there is someone to listen, there is hope."