We know that those who forget their history are doomed to repeat it. Yet that sentiment has been lost in the politicized attempts to fight President Barack Obama's push to accept more Syrian refugees. Our state and national leaders would do well to remember a tragic incident from our past in which people fleeing from danger in their country were denied a compassionate response by ours.
In May, 1939, a few months before the German invasion of Poland and the start of World War II, nearly 1,000 German Jews approached South Florida aboard a ship called St. Louis. They had been denied entry to Cuba and hoped to receive sympathy from American leaders who knew of the severe discrimination they faced at home.
Instead, our government enforced the strict quotas in place at the time. Forced to return home, more than 500 were trapped by Germany's European conquests and about half of those died in the Holocaust.