The National Advocate for People with Down Syndrome Since 1979

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The Nazis Don’t Approve
Ironically, one move resembled "Heil, Hitler!" salute...  Take that Hitler!
Ironically, one move resembled "Heil, Hitler!" salute... Take that Hitler!
The Nazis Don’t Approve

As I was holding the video camera, I couldn’t help but think about Adolf Hitler. Granted, when watching your daughter perform at her first dance recital, it’s probably not the first thing that pops into the minds of most dads. But there was Cayla, wearing her fluffy little tutu, and it was time for her to dance. About 70 years ago, Adolf Hitler believed anyone with a handicap was useless. In fact, he felt so strongly about it he developed an entire program designed to exterminate them.

Everyone learns about the horrors of the Holocaust in school, but not everyone learns about T4, Hitler’s plan to better purify his master race by eliminating the “undesirables.” Under orders from Hitler, Nazi doctors killed hundreds of their own people because they could contribute nothing positive to the Third Reich. Wastes of space.

One of Hitler’s undesirables was getting ready to dance, and I had no idea what to expect from her. I hit record on the video camera as the music started and aimed at my little girl, out there in front of everybody. In sports terms, we’d call her a “gamer.” She absolutely knocked it out of the park. Oh, it was far from perfect. But the little girl was trying so hard to get it right. She was really taking this seriously and was so focused on getting every move in. I was surprised by how quickly my emotions were stirred. Ten seconds in and I had a lump in my throat. A couple spin moves later and my eyes were welling up with tears. Just keep the camera steady. I was partly smiling and partly trying not to make it too obvious that I was crying at the same time.

When we got the official word that our baby had Down syndrome, we wept together. In that reaction, we voiced silently through shared sobs our realization (or so we thought!) that any dreams and hopes we had for our child were lost. You could probably even say that in that moment our view about Cayla and her life and Hitler’s views about Germany’s handicapped weren’t so far apart. In our short-sightedness, we didn’t have much hope. There was pain. Despair. Even some anger. While watching Cayla, I thought of German parents handing their handicapped children over to be placed on a Nazi bus knowing they would never come back. This may just be a proud dad talking tough from behind a computer screen, but right now I’m thinking the Nazis would have to pry Cayla away from my cold, dead hands if they wanted her.

Yeah, our journey has been difficult with her. But we’re so excited about what Cayla is going to accomplish with her life. A successful dance recital is just the tip of the iceberg. Here’s to many more recitals that Hitler would frown upon.




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Kitty Trout, United States, AZ
11/10/2012 9:52:46 AM
I agree with your perspective, but alas, Hitler's 'useless eaters' philosophy lives on. When parents (my daughter included) are encouraged to have the alpha-fetoprotein test during pregnancy, many "positives" are encouraged to abort their "defective child." We were pregnant at the same time. Her test, a test well-known to be 50% incorrect anyway, told her she had a 40% chance of bearing a child with DS. Her boy, my grandson, was born 2 days after his aunt, my 6th daughter, was born. She has DS--our blessing--and he does not. How many parents abort these wonderful gifts? When are we going to stand up as advocates for the unborn? Keep your great stories coming, Jerod. Maybe somebody will awaken and more lives spared. (BTW, that is also that grandson's name!)

Zo Ohlson, United States, IA
07/29/2012 23:17:54
Such an great story! What a beautiful girl!

Bev Roozeboom, United States, IA
07/27/2012 08:37:47
Thanks for sharing this beautiful story about your precious daughter. I love the picture of Cayla in her pink and purple tutu, and I loved the glimpse into her daddy's heart. Wonderful story!

Willie Brubaker, United States, NC
07/27/2012 07:28:49
Jerod, I do not know you personally and we know Leah from her brief stay in Raleigh. Our family loves your sweet wife. We were thrilled when she told Sarah she was expecting and we prayed for you both when we found out about Cayla having Down's Syndrome. We have several friends with sweet beautiful children with Down's. I see the challenges but what shines more is the joy, smiles and honesty they bring to their family and friends. Your story brought tears to my eyes. Whether Cayla's story wins or not, she does her dance to Jesus music from her heart. We know He claps at every step along with you and Leah. We send our love and hugs all the way from NC! ~Willie

Lisa Kay, United States, KY
07/27/2012 01:20:03
What a beautiful story!

Gertrude Ednis, United States, LA
07/27/2012 00:04:23
This is just so precious, it touches my heart!

Andrea Brouwer, United States, IA
07/27/2012 00:00:53
Great story!

Marcia Van Gorp, United States, IA
07/26/2012 23:12:01
So Precious

Rhonda Catrett, United States, AL
07/26/2012 22:49:29
awesome story!

Tammy Van Gorp, United States, IA
07/26/2012 22:45:15
So sweet! Love it!

Elizabeth Heersink, United States, UT
07/26/2012 22:39:51
She is such a doll and we love hearing your hearts through this story!

Sarah Turnbull, United States, IA
07/26/2012 22:30:13
She is SOOO precious!

Carol Kramp, United States, VA
07/23/2012 13:00:36
I remember watching Schindler's List. In one scene, the guards were leading 'unfit' people to the gas chamber. One was a person with Down Syndrome. As the mother of a young man with Down Syndrome, I was appalled. It broke my heart to think someone would want to murder these innocent and beautiful people. I appreciate your story.

Marty Wallace, United States, IA
07/16/2012 22:31:57
I've always loved Jerods style of writing and his amazing heart! So proud of you and Leah and being able to call you "family" is such a sweet bonus!

Lisa Wieck, United States, IA
07/09/2012 16:50:54
Beautiful.....

Beth Holcomb, United States, IA
07/09/2012 15:07:45
Cayla is an amazing child, as are her parents Jerod and Leah. i am a friend of Jerod's mom, and when Cayla was born, i heard the despair, the fear, the anger, the sadness from the family. the one comment that i remember the most clearly, though, was when grandma Jill said, "we all are realizing that there will just be different dreams for Cayla than what we thought we would have." every parent has dreams for his or her child when the little one is born. i am sure that Cayla's family did not anticipate being at a dance recital watching her perform, but there she is in her tutu, doing her routine, and smiling while she dances. god brought to Jerod and Leah and to the whole family a child who has taught them all that regardless of some syndrome, it is possible to smile and dance. what a wonderful gift indeed. take that Hitler.

bruno rwayitare, United States, IA
07/09/2012 12:57:52
victorious!

Jill Hoskins, United States, IA
07/09/2012 11:17:41
This is a touching and beautiful story! Loved it!

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