JERUSALEM, Israel - Despite Saturday's tragic plane crash that took the lives of 96 top Polish officials, including the president, the annual March of the Living is taking place in Poland on Monday.
This year's participants will honor the memory of Polish President Lech Kaczynski and the other top political, religious and military leaders who perished on Saturday when their airliner crashed while attempting to land in Russia.
"All 10,000 of our participants this year, representing Jewish and non-Jewish communities all across the world, will join in the sorrow of the Polish people as they solemnly march," said Dr. Shmuel Rosenman, chairman of the International March of the Living.
Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky and Tel Aviv Chief Rabbi Meir Lau, who serves as chairman of Jerusalem's Yad VaShem Holocaust museum, will lead this year's march from Auschwitz to Birkenau.
"The March of the Living strengthens Jewish identity individually and collectively," Sharansky said.
"Growing up I knew little about the Holocaust because the Soviet authorities did everything to prevent us, as Jews, from creating an identity. The March of the Living is a show of the force and unity of the Jewish people," he said.
The annual event, which began in 1988, retraces the steps of Holocaust victims between the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camps.