By William Glick, 2015 ASAP Alum
In late August 2015, during a quiet moment on the bow of one of the Coast Guard Academy’s sailboats off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard, I began reflecting on my time in Poland earlier that summer as an American Service Academies Program participant. A year prior, I was selected to participate in the ASAP. I thought I had a decent idea of what to expect, but I did not realize what a profound impact it would eventually have on me. Our two-week program began in Washington, D.C. and continued in New York, preparing us for our time in Poland, which included a visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau. The program reinforced my lifetime investment in human rights advocacy and helped me understand what it means to be a military officer in a humanitarian-military service and the ethical implications of making real-time decisions.
Over the semester, I worked with Dr. Alina Zapalska, Management Professor at USCGA, and Dr. Erik Wingrove-Haugland, Ethics Professor, to build the second USCGA ASAP Symposium, attended by over 200 people. Through discussion groups led by cadets and officers, lectures, and testimony, cadets explored how to apply the lessons learned from the Holocaust to real world situations that Coast Guard Officers face nearly every day. U.S. Director of the AJC, Shiri Sandler, spoke about the history and purpose of the ASAP. Dr. Wingrove-Haugland stated in his address:
Genocide has continued very often in the context of warfare or terrorism, and as a result it is imperative for the cadets as future military leaders to hold a deep understanding of the contexts in which genocide or any form of terrorism occur and the role both civilians and militaries have played in both causing and preventing them.
Cadets also heard from Holocaust survivor Mrs. Gisela Adamski, who helped us understand the story of the Holocaust and her struggle in postwar America. Discussion groups were led by Coast Guard officers, including ASAP Alumni from various services, including the Navy, Air Force, and Army. Officers and officer candidates from the German and Austrian armed forces were also in attendance, sharing their perspectives and experiences as cadets in 21st century Europe. Members of the Academy community including professors, cadets, staff, officers, our Commandant of Cadets, and others expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to reflect on how lessons of the past help us in the present.
Cadet 2/c William Glick is a member of the Class of 2017 at the United States Coast Guard Academy in New London, CT. Will is a Management major, and plays in several cadet bands, is the chief editor of the cadet literary journal id est, and has been selected as the cadet in charge of the Swab Summer basic training program for the incoming freshmen during summer 2016. Will enjoys running, playing trumpet, and several faith & fellowship groups onboard USCGA.
The Auschwitz Jewish Center is operated by the Museum in Oświęcim, Poland. For additional blog entries by and about the Auschwitz Jewish Center, please visit mjhnyc.org/tag/ajc. All Spring 2016 newsletter articles are found here.