Gov. Tom Wolf will make his first trip abroad in an official capacity Sunday when he travels to Europe.
Wolf will meet with leaders of Lithuania and Poland, leave remembrances of the 11 people who died in the October 2018 Tree of Life attack at two Holocaust memorial sites, and visit Pennsylvania National Guard troops.
The governor will visit the Paneriai memorial in Lithuania, and Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland, carrying with him a mezuzah, a holy scroll for the Jewish faith, damaged at the Tree of Life shooting.
Wolf also plans to write the names of the 11 people who were killed in the anti-Semitic attack at the Squirrel Hill synagogue in visitor books at both sites to honor their memories.
“I hope this act will bring solace to the survivors and remind them that we will never forget their loved ones,” Wolf said.
Wolf will also visit National Guard troops from Pennsylvania who are training and deployed in Lithuania and Poland. The state established the Pennsylvania National Guard State Partnership Program with the Lithuanian Armed Forces in 1993 as Lithuania regained its independence after the fall of the Soviet Union.
.@GovernorTomWolf today outlined his plan for his upcoming trip to Lithuania and Poland to visit @PANationalGuard members and to pay homage to victims of the Tree of Life shooting at Auschwitz-Birkenau. https://t.co/RppfWjS3Cw
— Office of the Governor (@GovernorsOffice) September 6, 2019
Since the inception of the program, the Pennsylvania National Guard and Lithuanian Armed Forces have completed numerous co-deployments, conducted annual platoon and company exchanges, and participated in numerous exercises together, according to a release from the governor’s office.
“The guard members training alongside Lithuanian troops in Pabrade and those deployed to Poland are making a tremendous sacrifice,” said Wolf. “They are missing birthdays, anniversaries, soccer games and holiday gatherings and their families and loved ones are missing them in return. We owe them an enormous amount of gratitude.”
Wolf said he is paying his own way on the eight-day trip.