I didn’t know the guard who was killed yesterday at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum when I worked there — he would have started several years after I left. But if he was anything like the security staff during my time there, then I’m sure he was a friendly guy and a true professional.
I know this, because no one in DC does security like the USHMM. Due to antisemitism and anti-Israel feelings, they had high security long before September 11 brought the metal detector and bag search out of the airport and into daily public life. Nobody entered the museum without having their belongings scanned and going through the magnetometer. (I got caught with a steak knife for my lunch and had to get special permission from a security supervisor to bring it in — even as an employee and someone they knew.)
Because of this, the awful but true fact of yesterday’s shooting was that, despite Stephen Johns’ death, the museum’s security worked. Guards are stationed at the entrances to make sure no one dangerous gets past them and into the main part of the building. And the gunman didn’t, though the way the situation turned out is unspeakably sad.
My heart goes out to the family and friends of Mr. Johns, as well as to my former colleagues. I am so sorry for your loss, and for the introduction of such fear into your workplace. You, of course, know that the USHMM is not just a memorial for those who died, but to those with the courage to survive in the face of hatred — and I know you will come back to work tomorrow with heavy hearts, but as determined as ever to stand up against that hate.