Nicholas Winton Still Touching Lives of Children

Michigan students get personal connection to WWII hero

Middle school students at Corpus Christi Catholic School in Holland, Mich., extensively studied the Holocaust this spring. I was pleased to give them the outstanding documentary “The Power of Good” and also Lawrence Reed’s monograph, which relate the story of Sir Nicholas Winton and the rescue of 669 children from Prague in 1939. My visits with Nicky and with three of those saved “children” have made his story very personal to me.

I was thrilled that the students at Corpus Christi had the opportunity to study both the horrific actions of some and the heroic deeds of others from this time in history. 

As the capstone of their unit of study, the students traveled to the Holocaust Memorial Center in Farmington Hills, Mich. They found a memorial quilt on display there and they were excited to find a quilt square honoring Sir Nicholas Winton and his efforts for the children of Prague. The students were so taken with the idea they decided to create their own memorial quilt to hang forever in the halls of Corpus Christi.

The quilt is finished and was dedicated last week during a service in the school chapel. Joining the students were two very proud grandmothers — the quilter and myself. Ruth Asselin from Kentwood volunteered her talents to quilt the squares prepared by the students. As she spoke to the students they were spellbound with her stories of travel to Auschwitz and her discovery that there were members of her extended family who had been held there. Her message was very clear: The hate that caused such atrocities must never again be tolerated.

My travels have also included Auschwitz as well as Yad Vashem, the Holocaust History Museum in Jerusalem. I am forever grateful that in addition to those visits I have had the opportunity to visit Nicky Winton and learn first-hand of the good deeds this terrible time inspired. I also spoke to the students and shared my visits with this humble, beautiful man who did so very much for humanity with no thought of receiving either thanks or personal gain.

I congratulate the students and staff of Corpus Christi and was honored to be a part of the dedication of this gift they have given to their school.