The Reflecting Stairs

By: Jennifer Pacini

I never thought a simple set of stairs would have such an impact.

While walking through the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, there was a lot to take in. Talking was at a minimum and visitors walked through at their own pace. Taking in the horrors took a toll on all of us. The dimly lit rooms were filled with photographs, artifacts, videos, and sounds from the Holocaust.  We could even smell the leather shoes from the victims of the gas chambers.

By the time I reached the end of the first floor my body was weary from reading about the events leading up to the “Final Solution” that Hitler organized.

While transitioning from each floor, the surroundings completely changed. The room opened up wide. White walls, natural light and simple pieces of art work filled your senses as you walked down a set of stairs. At first I was taken aback by the sudden change.  Yet, it was peaceful and calming.

The window you see while walking down the stairs to the third floor.

I took my steps slowly. Thinking about what I just saw. Comparing it to what I learned before and digesting the new information.

After the next floor, my body ached.

Taking a deep breath I went down the next set of stairs, which were just as bright as the first.  With each step came a new thought, a new question. This time I did not just think about what I saw, but about my family, my friends and how much they mean to me.

I could not believe that these stairs had such an impact on my visit. They were the only thing I thought about for a while. Thinking I was crazy, I asked during our group meeting if anyone else felt the same way about these stairs. Some nodded immediately, while others thought back.  We agreed that these stairs gave us a chance to look back and ponder about what we just went through.

Each step we took through the museum meant something different to all of us. But the simple set of stairs gave us all a chance to reflect.

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