WASHINGTON — As the names of the "places of martyrdom" were intoned, Holocaust survivors came forward one by one, holding small jars of soil as if they were made of eggshells.
Auschwitz-Birkenau . . . Babi Yar . . . Bergen-Belsen . . . Buchenwald . . . Dachau . . . Kovno . . . Lidice . . . Sobibor . . . Treblinka.
From 39 sites, most of them concentration camps, came earth to be mingled inside the base of the eternal flame that will burn in the Holocaust Museum when it is opened in April.
"Each particle of soil was collected from a place of unspeakable human tragedy," said Harvey M. Meyerhoff, chairman of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council. "This Hall of Remembrance, this national memorial to the victims of the Holocaust, is not complete without the soil which we bury today."
The soil was gathered during the last nine months, not only from concentration camp sites, but also from the beaches of Normandy and from American military cemeteries to honor "the young men and women who fell in battle to restore dignity and freedom to the human race," said Miles Lerman, chairman of international relations of the memorial council.