The value of knowing who we are was never more dramatically portrayed to me than two weeks ago. I was both humbled and privileged to tour Fort Breendonk, a WWII concentration camp outside of Brussels, Belgium.

This wasn’t one of the horrific death camps where Jews were sent to die. Rather, it was a “work camp” with men imprisoned there for different reasons. Hundreds did die there. Some were shot. Some were hung. Many died because of exhaustion, bad treatment, and torture.

Who they were mattered and influenced who they became. The same thing is true for us and our children. Do they know who they are? If they don’t, they may not become who they could be. Today does influence tomorrow.

Who were these men?

MemberOfResistanceCapturedShotA dad of six who was a member of the resistance. (In the picture to your right.)

A postal clerk caught delivering mail from family members to prisoners.

A mayor of a city thought to be too popular.

Thousands more.

But, who did they become?

We declare them heroes.

They declared of themselves: “I’m not a number.”

When each man was captured, he was processed and assigned a number. From then on, to the Germans working there, it’s as if these men didn’t have names. They were only referred to by their numbers.

Imagine the personal strength it took for these imprisoned, tortured, exhausted, and demeaned men to state and believe they were not their numbers. They knew who they were so they knew who they weren’t.

Perhaps you’ve heard me teach that “Identity controls behavior.”

Do your kids know who they are? Do they know who they aren’t? What do you wish they believed about themselves? Who will they be when tested? When suffering? Who do you hope they’ll be? What can you do to make that their reality? What must you do?

This is serious. Identity can help us live during trying circumstances and die with dignity.


I’ve posted more pictures from Fort Breendonk on our Facebook page. They’re challenging and thought provoking.