Today, Kristallnacht is remembered dimly and employed occasionally as a metaphor; just last month Jewish leaders in Gdansk, Poland, deplored the torching of a mosque and compared it to Kristallnacht. Today, the Gettysburg Address, carved into the wall of the Lincoln Memorial and in the hearts of all Americans, many of whom were asked to memorize it as schoolchildren, is regarded as perhaps the purest distillation of our national idealism and intent. Long may Kristallnacht chill us, and long may the Gettysburg Address give us chills.
(David M. Shribman is executive editor of the Post-Gazette (email@example.com, 412 263-1890). Follow him on Twitter at ShribmanPG.)