Dr. Harley A. Rotbart, a professor and vice chairman of pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine/Children’s Hospital Colorado, movingly describes in an essay for the New York Times his father’s reaction to his graduation from medical school in 1979.
Stirred by the memory at his daughter-in-law’s graduation this May, Dr. Rotbart recalls how his father — an uneducated fruit peddler in Colorado (his education had been disrupted by the Nazis) — fell to his knees sobbing after his son received his medical diploma.
“On that day, and again in a similar scene at my brother’s journalism school ceremony the next year, Dad was liberated from Auschwitz. He was no longer ’142178,’ a Nazi victim. My father could now stand face to face with doctors, journalists and other accomplished Americans,” Rotbart writes. “At his sons’ graduations, he graduated to freedom.”