CHARLES (Brianna's grandfather) AFFECTED HER LIFE

Breanna Scranton

Mrs. S. Kerman

English 9H-3

11 March 2013


            After being numb for so many months waiting for him to be at peace, I think it was a relief to know he was not suffering any longer. My grandpa died on October 10, 2012, nine days before his ninety second birthday. His kidney disease progressed so far that they no longer worked. We knew when he was diagnosed that it was the beginning of the end, but the hardest part was waiting for the end to come. He had to go to the hospital several times, each time staying a little longer. Going to the hospital became a routine as I spent most days sitting on his bed trying to make him smile. Although he was in so much pain constantly, he always had a joke that stopped our tears with laughs. Whether it was flirting with the nurses or making fun of my grandma, he never let his sickness stop him from lightening up the mood with his perfect smile. Eventually, the only time he was comfortable was when he was sleeping so these subtle jokes were no longer there along with our smiles. When he went on dialysis three times a week, we all knew that it was almost over. At this point, we knew that it was his decision to stay on dialysis or not. With knowing if the fluid was not drained from him, he would die, it was extremely tough to wonder when he was going to just give up. We all told him that it was okay if he left us and to not feel guilty when he stopped fighting. A rabbi came and spoke with him about what was going to happen when he died. I truly believe having the rabbi’s words in his mind was what convinced him that it was okay to die.

I know that my grandpa’s suffering is not much different from other men his age but my grandpa was not like other men, he was also an inspiration to hundreds of people and made a difference in their life. My grandpa was raised by a Jewish family in Kielce, Poland during the 1920s. When the Germans quickly occupied Poland during World War II, my grandpa and his family were immediately taken by the Nazis. He spent six horrendous years in numerous concentration camps coming across many near death experiences. After the Americans rescued him and he found out only two of his brothers were alive, he immigrated to New York, kissing the ground on his first step in America. He and his soul mate, my grandma, moved to California to continue their marriage that lasted fifty-eight years. My grandpa never spoke of his time under the Nazis’ power until later in his life. He then spoke at schools, naval bases, and homeless shelters to hundreds of people about his story and his message of peace. His story will always live on in my heart and the rest of the world because of his courage and determination to express how strong love truly is.

My hero died within a week once he went off of dialysis. I saw him for the last time two days before he died knowing that I would never see him again. One thing about my grandpa was that he was not too good at expressing his feelings with words. For instance, he never said “I love you”. He never said this once to me while I was growing up, but I of course knew he did through everything he did for me. My theory for him not saying this is because after losing his parents and two of his brothers at an early age, he felt that the people you loved always were taken away. When I went in his room to say goodbye I told him I loved him and gave him a kiss, just like I always did. The only difference was that this time, even though he could barely speak, he whispered, “I love you”.

Those three words are what gave me enough strength to help my family through the mourning process. My grandpa touched everyone’s heart who knew about him which has inspired me to keep his story alive. This was the first death that I experienced, so it was difficult to deal with at first. After accepting that I no longer had my hero, I was able to understand what his life meant and the significance it played in so many lives. My grandpa taught me what it truthfully means to have passion, everlasting courage, and grace to accept the difficulties the world often makes us go through. Having the man that I looked up to not be there anymore made me realize that struggles only make you stronger, just like my grandpa’s struggles allowed him to form into the generous, extraordinary man he became. This experience also taught me that to not let life push you down, but rather be inspired by the values you learned during the tough times and aspire to live through these morals. While in a concentration camp, my grandpa had the code “B1719” imprinted on his forearm. This might have seemed as identification as a Jew at the time, but it actually symbolized his elegancy to get through life and all of its horrors. B1719 was stamped on my papa’s arm, just like his legacy will forever be engraved in my heart. 


We would like to thank Hueneme High School and Vanessa Calderon for purchasing 70 copies of "The Art of Survival" to be used as the class reader for a summer school history class. If there are any other schools or organizations that are interested in the book, please contact Mark Pierce at for a free copy for your review.


Thank you letter from David Locken (Las Colinas Middle School


Thank you letters from Goodwill Industries

Dear Charles, Libby, and Mark Pierce,
The Goodwill Industries Staff would like to thank you all for taking the time out of your busy schedules to come speak to our Job Club participants. All of the participants were very touched by your story and they all left that day feeling motivated to work hard and to succeed in life. As you may have guessed, many of our participants have led difficult lives and have gone through challenges that have left them feeling hopeless. Our goal is to motivate them to look past their struggles and continue to move forward to make a better life for themselves and their families. Your story really motivated our participants and we have seen a positive change in them and we have you to thank for that. It was an honor and a privilege to have guests as special as you are come to our site to speak to our participants. There are not enough words to express how grateful we are to have had the privilege to meet you and to listen to your amazing story. Thank you for all that you do, you are truly an inspiration.
Some of the participants wanted to share their experiences with you and we have included their letters in this email.
Many thanks,
Goodwill Industries Staff
Ventura and Santa Barbara County


Dear Mr. & Mrs. Pierce,


I would like to take this time and thank you for sharing your story with us. It’s a great reminder that no matter what hardship we go through all we need to do is look deep inside ourselves and come out a stronger, better person, no matter what the situation is. I thank you again for reminding me of that. You’ve given me new hope in life and I now realize that the problems in my own life are not so big and I shouldn’t dwell on them. I should just try and make the best of what I have.






Dear Mr. Pierce,


I would like to take the time to thank you for sharing your amazing story. Your experiences have helped me reflect on my life. There are times when I complain about life, and how hard it seems be. After listening to your experiences I feel very fortunate not only to be alive, but also to live in a free country. I truly admire you for sharing your story to other students; your story has touched and will continue to touch many hearts. May God bless you, your wife and your family.






Dear Charles Pierce,


I appreciate you taking the time out of your day to come share your story with us. It is very touching and sad at the same time to hear what things really happened during your adult life. I see that you are a strong person and that you don’t let your past affect your life today. I can see that you are a very happy man and that you surround yourself with good things and positive people and that has led you to where you are today. You changed my perspective in life and how I view the struggles that I go through in today’s society. I will now value the things I have in my life and I will surround myself with good people and positive things. You gave me a big eye opener for my life; you have shown me to never take things for granted because you never know what can happen in today’s life. Thank you again for your story and time.







Dear Mr. Charles,


My name is Mercedes. Thank you so much for taking the time and coming to talk to us. It was the best experience I have had. Your life story has helped me realize that my struggles are not nearly as great as what you went through. You were fighting for your life; left all alone in a time where everything was filled with hatred and fear. You had no one to turn to; it was just you in a scary world. I at least have my family for help. Seeing you sitting there smiling made me think that if you were able to cope with your problems and now be standing here smiling, that I could too. It must have been hard for you to leave the anger and the grudges you held in your heart but I know that you did because after everything you seem like a happy man. I remember when you said “forget or at least leave behind the problem and move on.” Your words have helped me realize that if a man like you who went through so much in life can move on, why shouldn’t I be able to do the same? I need to forget my bad experiences and move on to make a better for myself. Thank you so much for taking the time and energy to talk to people like me who think we are leading a difficult life, when in reality it is not nearly as bad as the life you lived during that period.


Thank you,




Dear Mr. Pierce,


Thank you for taking the time to come out and speak to us. What I liked most about your story was how it moved me to keep fighting my battles with everyday life. I can relate a little, but not even close to what you have faced. I will definitely buy your book.






Dear Libby, Charles, and Mark,


I just want to thank you all personally for bringing your story to life for me and so many others; especially the second half, the Happily Ever After part of your story. For me it brought more hope and reassurance for my own relationship’s future. You two have been truly inspirational.







Dear Mr. Pierce,


Things have been hard for me lately and I had fallen into a deep depression. I have been slowly working my way out of it, but listening to your story made me realize that life is way too short to sit around and do nothing about it. Your story touched me so much that I was crying the whole time! It makes me think that if you could endure and losing your family and then turn around and surround yourself with a loving family, that there is no reason why I cannot do the same. I could not stop thinking about you and your family last night. Your words are forever with me. I have so much to say but I can’t seem to put it all on paper. I am putting my best foot forward and moving on to a wonderful life with my family and I really do owe it to you and your family. Thank you for opening my eyes; I cannot express what you have done for me.


Forever grateful,




Dear Mr. Pierce,


I would like to thank you for taking the time out of your day to share with us your intense past. It takes a courageous man to have overcome the events that you experienced and turn it into something positive. You spend time helping others realize that they should never give up and they should live “day by day.” You changed my view on life, you’ve helped me realize that life is so amazing and it is taken for granted, therefore I will never take each day I live for granted again. Knowing that you lived in fear for so many years has made me realize that even though I may face tough times, there is nothing that I cannot overcome. Mr. Pierce you are the strongest person that I know. Your story and struggle will forever have a place in my heart. Thank you for sharing your experience with me.






Dear Mr. Pierce,


Listening to your story I felt like you had gone through a lot. I don’t think I would ever know how you felt, but I can only imagine. Your story has motivated me to reach for my goals and not let anything stop me. I now know that I am able to accomplish anything. Thank you for giving me the push I needed to continue on with my life.


Thank you,




Dear Mr. Pierce,


While your son was telling your story I was picturing everything in my head and all the struggles you went through at such a young age. We as people take so much for granted without even thinking how some have it so much harder. Your story really hit me in a strong way and the fact that you have peace with what happened shows me how strong of a person you are and I thank you for that. The love story of how you and your wife met was so wonderful, people often dream of having a marriage so strong and nowadays that is hard to come by.


Thank you once again,





Dear Mr. Pierce,


I would like to thank you for coming by and visiting our clients. They are all going through many struggles and they feel like there is no way of getting out of them. Your story has helped them open their eyes and see that there is a better opportunity for them if they believe and continue to look forward. They really enjoyed listening to your story and refer back to it when they feel like giving up. It was a pleasure meeting you and I appreciate you making the time to speak to us.


Thank you,




Dear Mr. Pierce,


Thank you so much for sharing your story to our group, it was really moving. I think that it is really easy to get caught up in our own lives and our daily problems and often times we forget that there are others who are struggling or have struggled more than we have. When I lost my boyfriend of 4 years because of a drunk driver I felt that my world was falling apart, I was angry and I didn’t think I would ever recover from it. After listening to your story today, I only wish that I can be half as strong and courageous and loving as you are. You are a wonderful man and I am honored to have had the privilege to meet you and to have listened to your story.


Thank you for touching my life,





Dear Mr. Pierce,


I would like to thank you for sharing your story; it was very inspirational and moving for me. This past year has been a very difficult year and before hearing your story I felt as if I could never get over or move on from the things I have gone through. Now instead of thinking of all the reasons I have to be sad, angry, or hurt I will focus on the million reasons I have to be happy and grateful. I know I am not able to forget or change things in my past but like you, I will learn to accept that life is hard at times but one must always remain hopeful and maintain a positive attitude. Once again thank you for reminding me that my issues are not as big as they seem and to never stop fighting for what I want. I now truly believe that there is a happy ending for everyone and I can’t wait to have mine.






Dear Charles, Libby, and Mark,


Thank you so much for taking the time to come speak with us. I can’t even imagine how painful it is to relive your horrible experiences. Your strength and courage, both then and now, are truly inspiring.

I come from a New York Jewish family: my grandparents are from Brooklyn. We were so fortunate to not have had any immediate family members sent to the camps, they escaped to the US right before the war. I have also been lucky enough to have the opportunity to visit Auschwitz and see firsthand where these atrocities occurred. As you recounted your story I was able to visualize it, which made your story that much more vivid.

Your love story with your wife is also moving and beautiful and I’m so happy you were able to find so much happiness in your family. You are an inspirational person and I admire you for telling your story so that future generations won’t forget what happened and can hopefully learn from this tragedy. I know our clients were touched deeply by your story.


Thank you again,




Dear Charles, Libby, and Mark,


                  I want to thank you and share my appreciation with you for sharing your painful and inspiring experience with our classroom. I admire your courage and determination to move forward and create a new beautiful life.

                  The importance of this message is- that each and every one of us has the power to change and re-create our lives, is an important message for my students to walk away with.

My moment of overwhelming joy and heartache for you was the moment you stepped off the boat, and kissed the U.S. soil. I can only imagine the sense of freedom and liberation you felt from escaping a life of fear, prejudice and hatred.

Libby, your compassion, joy and patience are an inspiration to all. Charles has been truly blessed to have found you.

Mark, your dedication to share your parent’s story is truly beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing your father’s story and taking the time to come in to our classroom.






Dear Charles,

I am glad I had the once in a lifetime opportunity to hear your personal account of the Holocaust. Your story of survival was truly inspirational and it made me think if you could survive 6 years in a concentration camp there is no limit to what we as humans can do. For the time you were speaking I felt like the word was standing still. I learned more in the 2 hours you were there than I have in probably a whole year. Your story was priceless and I will never forget it. In fact I will and have already passed it on because I think your story is deeply moving and something everyone should hear.

Thank you does not express how grateful I am to have heard your story. I never imagined I would have such a wonderful opportunity. From the bottom of my heart thank you for taking the time to speak at Job Club.


Dear Charles and Libby Pierce,


Thank you for taking time to share your life story with us. The experience is something that will forever change me.  I will never view survival, forgiveness, love and freedom in the same way.  I admire you sharing your story with various crowds, especially youth.  Your love story is so sweet, and it makes me believe in love at first sight.  I hope your story continues to reach people, shape them and is never forgotten.




Dear Mr. Pierce,


Thank you for taking the time to share your story with us. Of course learning about the Holocaust in school doesn’t compare to the weight your story has on my heart. What you and your family are doing by sharing this story is remarkable. It’s important for the generations that follow to understand the magnitude of this horrific genocide. The thought that any one life is less valuable than another is absurd and sick.

                  Perhaps the greatest lesson that I learned from you is your ability to move on and not carry the hate with you. In life people do and say nasty things to hurt people and more often than not it stays with those they’ve hurt. Moving on from such a life altering events speaks volumes to your ability to survive. Quite honestly, I can’t begin to express the adoration I have for you. I want you to know that I will continue to share your story and I’ve put your picture on my refrigerator to remind myself that life, not matter how dark, is what you make of it. You and your wife have created something amazing.


Thank you again!




Letter from Crysphen Blacke a student at Oxnard High School

Life and Love, something I learned from today's speech. I'm Crysphen Blacke, I'm fifteen years old, and I attend Oxnard high school. I've been so indignant for the past couple of weeks. I thought my life was so problematical, and challenging.' I WAS WISHING FOR A MIRACLE TO HAPPEN" I woke up today Mr.Pierce realizing that the only thing that was making my life difficult was myself. You lived through so much chaos, you saw things that the eyes should never see, yet till' this day you stand with the biggest smile I've ever seen. I never realized how important life was till' you came and shared your story, you inspired me to become a better person, you inspired me to look at life as a gift, you showed me the kind of person i want to be, but you also taught me to never let go of what I believe in. I feel greatly honored to have listened to your story... guess what Mr. Pierce " MY MIRACLE HAPPENED."

Letter from Scarlett Schmitz a student from Oxnard High School


Letter from Sabrina Vasquez a student at Camarillo High School

Good evening Mr. Pierce,

My name is Sabrina Vasquez, I'm 15 years old and I attend Camarillo High School. Today I went on a field trip to hear your story. Honestly, it was the most inspirational day I have experienced in my life. As a teenager life continues to surprise me with new things, new situations, and new people. These new things are not always good, to say the least; It sometimes feels like I get knocked down more times than I can get up. But hearing your story today completely changed my outlook on the difficulties we encounter during life. You said "you have to take it day by day, everyday." That simple sentence has given me the strength and ability to know that whatever life throws at me I WILL be able to handle it. Being able to know something so valuable like that at the age of 15 really makes me realize how lucky I am. I will carry that with me for the rest of my life Mr. Pierce. I hope you know that your story has changed mine and many of my friends lives today, we are so gracious towards you and your beautiful wife for sharing your story. Thank you so much.



Letter from Rachel Graham a reader of The Art of Survival

Good evening Mr and Mrs Pierce,

I wanted to send a email to let you know that I have just finished reading your book, The Art of Survival. I know that writing it must have been difficult but I think the message you deliver can change anyone that reads it. A little about myself. I am a 25 year old female, living in Maryland. I work on a ambulance as a Paramedic. At times I see people on the worst days of there lives and a lot of the lessons you have in your book is stuff to live by. I admire your strength to not only survive the horrible years of the holocaust but also the strength to tell the world about it not only so the world will not forget but also life lessons for how to live life. I aspire to be someone that has the same attitude that you do and look at life in a way that you do. If you could give me one lesson in life to live by not only in my works as a paramedic but in daily living what would you tell me? This is a lesson I would like to carry on to my kids( I have no children yet but recently engaged so sometime in the future.). Thanks again for writing your book and for the lessons you have taught me.
I will never forget!

Many Blessings,
Rachel Graham
Dear Rachel,

Thank you so very much for your beautiful e-mail. It was a surprise to us that our book reached Maryland. You want to know what one thing Charles could give you to take through life - the following is what he said:
Never lose hope - live with courage and hope in your heart that no matter how bad things may seem, there is light. Never give up!
I was happy to read that you are getting married. The one thing my mother taught me is "never go to bed mad". Always keep the communication going between the two of you. I guess that is how Charles and I have a wonderful marriage.

Love and best wishes.
Libby & Charles
Dear Mr and Mrs Pierce,

Thank you so much for the response back. Thank you so much for the words to live by. I truly believe that those words should be taking to heart. I admire the fact that Mr Pierce is able to have such a positive attitude in spite of everything he has been through. There is nothing that can come close to the experiences that he has experienced however he is still able to live his life to the fullest and have such insightful words. Let him be a inspiration to all that NO MATTER what happens in your life you can overcome it and you can chose the attitude you want to have afterward. In saying that may the world never forget the experiences he had so that it may never happen again!

I am very happy to be getting married. The words your mother always told you "never go to bed mad" are words my mom has always spoken to me. I am very lucky in this society to have parents that are still married. My fiance's parents are also still married. I think there is very important lessons to be learned from couples like yourselves. Like you guys, I am one of the lucky ones to have met him and just "knew", we both knew and now two years later we are engaged. I know no one starts a marriage thinking that it will ever end but I truly believe in the advice you give to "never go to bed mad", talk about stuff and work on them and in hard times as Mr. Pierce says "never give up". I am blessed to have found a great guy. He just got out of the military where he flew around with the secretary defense for 6 years doing security. Like me he loves to travel. We share a lot of the same backgrounds and points of views.

Thanks again for your response,
Much Love,



Letter from Ellen Moore - an Oxnard College Student

      I wanted to thank you personally for coming and speaking to our college English 102 11 a.m. class last Tuesday, I believe it was 11/22. I was the one crying and then coming up to you and your beautiful wife and squeezing you like I've known you forever . Two years ago I broke my back and have some neurological damage from a bad car accident and have gone back to step at a time. I want to write a book about my life, after my mom died when I was 13 my father took off and my little sister and i were left in some horrendous places and predicaments which has haunted me most of my life..NOTWITHSTANDING ANYTHING near what you had to go through, my goodness your story was so sad, yet so beautiful to see what a loving husband, father and human being you are. How is that possible well I will find out when I am done reading your book. My husband left after my 5th surgery, I wasn't the beautiful corporate wife bringing home all the cash, my father left us when my mother died, and YES I was the one who yelled out "do you have any single sons like yourself" and when your son, who so eloquently expressed your portions of the book, and life responded, I have a son your age I must say he made my day, considering I'm 48 yet act like one of the kids which my beautiful 18 year old daughter loves, who I have raised and supported and loved her whole life. I was just wondering could there
actually be any men left with the backbone, compassion and strength of a man like you.? Thank you my friend for opening my eyes to how beautiful life can really be!! And the love you and your wife showed just melted my heart! By the way I have
your picture on my refridgerator and when my brother who I have been trying to draw closer to came for Thanksgiving said "Oh, who are these friends of yours?" I laughed and for an hour told him all about you all, by the time we were done he was crying too.
You all touch so many lives....thank you for touching mine!
With love and respect,
Ellen Moore
Oxnard English Student


Letter from Dan Kirkpatrick, a reader of The Art of Survival.

The following are letters from students at the C.A.P.E. School in Camarillo, Ca. where Charles, Libby and their daughter Sherry spoke to an 8th. grade history class shortly before the students went on a class trip to The Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. The following letters show what an impact Charles' story made on the students.
The students names were removed from the letters due to their age.









The following are letters from students at El Descanso School in Camarillo, Ca.
where Charles and Libby spoke to a 4th. grade class.
The following letters show what an impact Charles' story made on the students.
The students names were removed from the letters due to their age.






The following letter is from the teachers of the 4th. grade class.


The following is a thank you letter from a friend of Charles Pierce.

Mr. Pierce,

I just finished reading the article in the paper. I feel it was well written. I really enjoyed reading it.

Thank you for being willing to share your story.

I, like your wife, believe you were saved because you still had things to accomplish so God saved you. With that said I do not believe the people who died were less worthy or less important. I believe God was deeply pained by the pain and suffering of all his children during that time. But God gave us agency and he cannot take it away from us for he is a perfect God. Agency was used for evil and many suffered.

I believe sharing your story is part of what God needs you to do. THANK YOU! I believe we are experiencing some of the same pitfalls today. I feel your story is so important so people see the principles of what happened. If they understand how things feel apart and came to the point of concentration camps to control and destroy people they will recognize the same thing happening today. History repeats itself as we all know. I am doing all I can to make sure we do not experience your horrific experiences again.

THANK YOU again for your time in writing out and telling your story. Thank for reliving those horrible memories to bless us today. Thank you to Libby for listening again and again and supporting you. Thank you to Mark for being your mouthpiece.

Corrine Barlow
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