This past Labor Day weekend, some fellow soldiers and I finally got a much-needed long weekend off in Poland. We are here as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve supporting and training with fellow NATO countries so that when the time comes and we need fight together, we fight as one team. History has shown us the need for this many times.

Instead of going to the beach at the Baltic Sea, we chose instead to go someplace more solemn. We chose to go to Auschwitz and Schindler’s factory. It was something we all wanted and needed to see as soldiers and as Americans.

We drove the 5 hours from our camp and upon arrival at Auschwitz II we were in awe. Its size and organization and design all hits you at once. As we walked around we learned more than any of us had ever known about the horrors of the Nazi party and the Final Solution. We walked though the in-processing building where prisoners are stripped of their possessions, clothes, hair and their dignity to the places they slept. We walked around the gas chambers, crematoriums, fields and ponds where their ashes were spread. We saw pictures taken of the prisoners being led off the trains or into the “showers” or even being burned in mass piles. We saw pictures of the families that had been sent there who never left. The most disturbing was the wall of pictures of children with the quote: ‘The first to perish were the children, abandoned orphans, the world’s best, the bleak earth’s brightest; these children from the orphanages may have been our comfort, from these sad, mute, bleak faces our new dawn might have risen.’

The next day we visited Auschwitz I, the original camp. We saw a room with nearly a swimming pool-sized bin full of Jewish possessions of dishware and pots, hairbrushes, eyeglasses and other personal effects. We saw a room nearly 50 feet long stacked to the ceiling with shoes – including those worn by infants. We saw a room the same size with human hair that had been cut from their heads at in-processing or after being gassed that was sold to Germans to make clothing and blankets. We saw where sick medical experiments were performed. The location where thousands were shot and tortured. Another gas chamber and crematorium.

Auschwitz was the largest of the Nazi Concentration Camps and the one where the majority of the Final Solution would be carried out. In all, over 1.1 million Jews, Polish, Russians and others were murdered at Auschwitz alone. It’s estimated that the Nazis murdered 6-million Jews. Millions more across Europe were killed during Hitler’s attempt to build his 3rdReich.

The point of all this is simple: without good men… patriots… this could have been much worse. Roman’s 15:1 says, “Now, we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves.” There must always be strong, willing men who must protect the weak and defend what is right. Throughout history, righteous men have stepped up and decided the hard right was better than the easy wrong. Our country needs patriots. The world needs patriots. Our homes needs patriots. Those who believe in freedoms for all, in a moral society, in a Godly society. We need men and women who will be there whether it’s our police, firefighters, EMS, military or even the Good Samaritan to do what is right when the time comes.

Seeing something so evil reminds us how evil humans can be. It reminds us that even those who don’t support it but allow it are no better. We must be the ones to go against it. We must protect what we love and because we are so blessed, we need to give those same protections to others. Raise the next generation to have the same morals and characters we do. After 2 days of seeing this mixed with raw feelings of 3 deployments and 15 years of service coming to an end, I am truly passionate about this. God Bless America and God Bless our patriots.

Chad Carvalho is a man of God, father of 3 and Active duty Army Medevac Pilot. He has served 15 years on active duty with a deployment to Iraq and 2 to Afghanistan. He’s currently serving in Europe with Operation Atlantic Resolve. Planning his new career as a commercial airline pilot with his wife Karen of 15 years and spending more time with his children.