PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD)– It was a somber tone as people gathered in the auditorium at the Peoria Riverfront Museum on Monday. Those in attendance were there to commemorate the victims, survivors, and families of the Holocaust.

A candlelight vigil by families of the victims and a White Rose Society Essay Contest was held in addition to guest speaker Vera Emmons, who shared her mother’s story of surviving the Holocaust as a child and coming to America as a post-war refugee.

Warnings of the future were just as prevalent as atrocities of the past at Monday’s remembrance.

Susan Katz, Executive Director of the Jewish Federation of Peoria, believes the lessons of the Holocaust are just as applicable today.

“They started by dehumanizing the Jews, by taking their rights and privileges, by making them ‘other’,” said Katz. “Once you set that framework and you take away people’s rights, and you dehumanize them and its then okay to ostracize them, slowly but surely you chip away at your society. And you allow horrible things to happen to them.”

As people began clearing out, they were given a candle to light to remember a victim, and encouragement to visit the Museum’s Holocaust Memorial, approximately 6,000,000 buttons in glass displays. Each one represents a victim.