Indicating how far we haven't come, the New England Holocaust Memorial was vandalized Wednesday morning, one of it's 9-foot-tall glass panels shattered by what was reportedly a rock.
Police have taken 21-year-old James Isaac into custody and charged him with malicious destruction of personal property and destruction of a memorial.
"When we hear the sound broken glass, we shudder. It's a terrible reminder of terrible times," said Barry Schrage, president of Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston, which manages the memorial.
The panel that was shattered was covered with millions of numbers representing the infamous tattoos forced onto the arms of Nazi victims. Israel Arbeiter, a Holocaust survivor who helped build the memorial, rolled up his sleeve to show his tattooed forearm during a public statement following the vandalism.
Arbeiter's number was one on the glass panel that was shattered.
Isaac's lawyer said that the man suffers from mental health issues and was already on probation for an assault and battery case. At the time of his arrest he was wearing a GPS monitoring device as a condition of his bail for that case. Police are still investigating whether this was a hate crime.
Thankfully, extra panels were made at the time of the memorial's construction, so repairs should be fairly swift, but the feelings surrounding its desecration will take much longer to settle.
"When a memorial is desecrated, when this glass is shattered, people feel that," explained Robert Trestan of the Anti-Defamation League. "It really impacts people in a very profound way."
In this tumultuous time in which hate is just as loud as love, the past is a reminder both of how much humans can overcome and also what they are capable of. It cautions all future generations to heed any and all warning signs, and whatever the verdict of this incident, to feel as chilled by shattering glass as survivors of the Holocaust.
It's easy to scoff and say something as terrible as that could never happen again, but it's harder to admit that's only the case if we make sure it doesn't.