“Without memory, there is no culture. Without memory, there would be no civilization, no society, no future.” — Elie Wiesel

This spring marks the 70th anniversary of Israel’s independence, a historically important milestone for one of the state of Georgia’s dearest friends and America’s greatest allies.

With this landmark occasion just around the corner, it is only fitting that the state of Georgia take action by designing and building a memorial for the millions of lives that were cut short during the Holocaust. The Georgia Holocaust Memorial will stand as a monument to foster further education and understanding of Jewish history and culture. It will serve as an eternal symbol of resilience.

As we recognize this momentous occasion, Georgians must also acknowledge the essential contributions that the Jewish people add to our state.

The first group of Jewish settlers came to Georgia in 1733, shortly after Gen. James Oglethorpe’s landing in Savannah. Soon after, Savannah became one of the first cities in the United States to create a Jewish congregation, and the state of Georgia has continued to welcome Jewish immigrants in cities across our state.

The vibrant Jewish communities that have developed in cities from Atlanta to Augusta greatly enhance our state’s history and culture and are an enduring testament to the bonds we share. Today, the city of Atlanta boasts the 10th-largest Jewish community in North America, and there are over 40 Israeli companies with national or regional headquarters in the state of Georgia.

Despite the historic bigotry, violence and marginalization that the Jewish people have endured, Georgia stands today as one of the strongest allies to the Jewish community and the state of Israel. We all take exceptional pride in the religious, intellectual, economic and political contributions of Georgia’s Jewish community.

The alliance between the state of Georgia and the state of Israel has never been stronger. We must work together to ensure that this dynamic, thriving, moral and economic partnership continues to strengthen in the years to come.

My hope is that by memorializing one of history’s darkest periods, we will continue to unite Georgians of all faiths. Let us never forget that the state of Israel does not stand alone, but shines as a beacon of hope and freedom with the great state of Georgia by its side.

Casey Cagle is the lieutenant governor of Georgia and a declared Republican candidate for governor. Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick (R-Cobb County) has introduced Senate Bill 356 to change the legislative oversight of the Georgia Commission on the Holocaust and to call for a privately funded Georgia Holocaust Memorial.