Article: The most famous birthday gift of all time

Newry Cathedral News

This week sees the 80th Anniversary of Anne Frank being given a diary for her 13th birthday. That small gift was to make a huge impact on the lives of others, and it became one of the most famous birthday gifts of all time. A month later she and her family went into hiding from the Nazis and the pages of her showed the human side of World War II for Jews.

The book Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl is one of the most widely published books in the world. It has been translated into over 70 languages and has sold over 30 million copies. Anne spent 2 years and one month closeted away before being found and taken to the concentration camp where she and her sister contracted typhus and died. Her diary was first published in 1947 and is listed as one of a 100 documents that changed the world. It is a book full of hope and happiness and demonstrates the power of staying positive.

Even though she was surrounded in fear and evil, Anne Frank is testament today to how young people matter particularly in times of struggle. It demonstrated that young people think and feel deeply about the events going on around them. They also can find the positive, As Anne says, ‘I still think in spite of everything that people are still good at heart’.

Discrimination, injustice and exclusion did not end with the conclusion of World War II and the liberation camps, it continues today with the war in Ukraine or the poverty in our towns and cities. According to UNICEF more than half of Ukraine – 7.5 million children have been forced to flee ongoing violence. We see children play in rubble even though they don’t have their houses anymore. Plans to study have been put aside as they turn to help other relatives.

As Ukrainian children with families arrive here, remember we have a duty to offer asylum to people fleeing persecution. Children often suffer and many of them have left parents and relatives at home not knowing if they are safe. Children will have the fear of a new school where they don’t speak the language and not understand the culture or customs. Yet many of these same children will go on to play a remarkable part in enhancing our society. We are just happy that so many of them have got to safety with a clear safe sky above their heads in a country with endless possibilities.

Adapted from BBC Radio Ulster Thought for The Day.