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Dear Alan Gratz

Sam Shiberou
White Station Middle School
4th - 6th Grade

Dear Alan Gratz,

As I turn on the news, I cannot believe my eyes. It is filled with images and stories of horrible things happening all over the world. Innocent people are being killed in Syria, Native American protestors at the Dakota Access Pipeline have been sprayed with hoses in freezing weather, and immigrants have been victims of hate crimes due to Trump’s victory in the election. In fact, over 900 hate crimes were reported in the first ten days after Trump was elected president. With all of these things happening, it is hard to find hope. Prisoner B-3087 has taught me how to find hope in the darkest of times.

The main character, Yanek, faced discrimination because of his Jewish faith. He was tortured, beaten, and forced to work in concentration camps. Although the almost got killed several times, he stayed strong and still found light in the dark. Yanek was kind to others, he found time for celebration, and he constantly reminded himself of what it was like to be human. When Yaken was feeling weak, he hid to of his friends with him to regain strength. After finding a small wooden horse in his barrack, he saved it and gave it to a boy celebrating his Bar Mitzvah. During the death march, Yanek and every other prisoner sang their cultural songs to remember their heritage. Finally, Yankek carried the weight of another prisoner who could no longer walk. I think Yanek survived because he did not give in to despair.

Yakek’s actions have inspired me to do something about the injustice that I see in the world. Reading a book about the Holocaust taught me how society might be if people do not stand up to the discrimination of others, due to their race or religion. I attended an elementary school with many undocumented immigrants. These people have been some of the best friends I could ever have. I would hate for them to be deported or for their families to be separated. In order to let my friends know that I will stand with them, I participated in a Solidarity Walk in downtown Memphis. Now, I pledge to not be a bystander to injustice. I will find hope, like Yanek, and I will always remember his story.


Thank you,

Sam Shiberou