Readers Respond to the June 2023 Issue

Your feedback on fireflies, Caribbean artisans and more

A Poignant Friendship

How lucky we are to have Anne Frank’s story and now the story of her life with her friend Hannah Pick-Goslar before the war (“Hannah & Anne,” June 2023). It struck me that the United States was deliberate in its bureaucracy, not allowing Jewish refugees to enter the country. I hope that the world has learned many lessons, not the least of which is that refugees are fleeing for a reason—not to become spies, but to save lives. How many lives could have been saved if the U.S. had just allowed all refugees to enter? —Patricia Kastenholz | Tipton, Indiana

No matter how many books, stories and films about the Holocaust I have read or watched, it is still a subject that calls out for my attention. In view of the rise in antisemitism and hate-fueled actions today, I can’t help but wonder if such a thing could happen again. As we lose more eyewitnesses to the Holocaust, it is critical we keep sharing these stories with the world. This is a “history” we cannot afford to relegate to history books. It must stay alive and bright, and shine a spotlight on ignorance and hate so that they can never have the strength of a nation behind them again. —Celine C. Wanner | Stanhope, New Jersey

Honestly, I’m a bit at a loss for words right now. This story was astounding—intimate, moving and telling in the context of history. I’m so grateful that Hannah Pick-Goslar wrote this memoir, but I wish she had lived long enough to see it published. —Melissa Rubinsky | Cambridge, Massachusetts

Firefly Magic

Madeline Bodin’s article “Lord of the Fireflies” (June 2023) was a true gift. From the front porch of our home in central Texas we can look out into the native woodland we have allowed to remain around our home. About 20 minutes after sunset, when complete darkness has arrived, we have been delighted to see the fairy-like blinking all over the black woods. This simple observation is truly magical. We return every evening. And there’s a bonus—hearing the call of the chuck-will’s-widow, a nocturnal bird we never see. Thank you for this simple pleasure. —Lisette Schmidli | Austin

Preserving Puerto Rican Culture

I’m glad to read that artisans are teaching their craft to the next generation in an attempt to preserve their culture (“The Authentics,” June 2023). Teaching classes at the elementary school and middle school level would be one way to ensure the talents and traditions are handed down. —Cheri Bonds | Tampa, Florida

I hope this inspires a new generation to embrace the dedication to learn and pass on techniques that were developed before we became enamored with mass production of poor-quality items. And may the rest of us find it in our hearts to purchase these pieces for our own homes. —Karen Haycraft | Parma, Ohio

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This article is a selection from the July/August 2023 issue of Smithsonian magazine

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