Brady Williams SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) – Hundreds of people gathered at Fort Ontario today to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the arrival of 982 Holocaust refugees in Oswego. The fort was the only safe haven in the entire country for Holocaust victims.
Congressman John Katko, who helped to organize the event and is currently working to make the fort a national park, spoke about the importance of remembering Oswego’s generosity in 1944.
He says, “People need to know what this represents. There’s a lot of goodness in this world, and you don’t hear about it. This was goodness personified.”
The commemoration featured speeches from Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow, representatives of the offices of Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, and the ambassador of Israel in New York state, Dani Dayan.
The event also reunited many of the original refugees. One survivor, Rikica Levi Giglio, was only six years old when she arrived in Central New York. She said the event was uplifting for her, and she explained how the welcoming of Holocaust victims three-quarters of a century ago was an important action that needs to be considered in today’s world.
Giglio says, “We’re a nation of immigrants… We should be a little more open to everything that’s happened in the world because I think we all came from somewhere.”