95 and Going Strong

I spent the 59th anniversary of my parents’ execution speaking at Midrash, a progressive Jewish cultural center in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It was my intent to write about this trip immediately upon my return, but I’ve decided to let my reactions percolate a little longer and save them for next week’s blog.

I returned to the RFC office yesterday to the first flood of responses to our annual June 19th mailing. Many people include heart-felt notes along with their contributions, and I am moved to include one here.

“Dear Robert,

I’m sorry that I can’t give a greater amount for this good cause but there are too many causes to help now. I’m 95½ years young and have a limited income. I have never gotten over what our government did to your parents. It still breaks my heart, thus I still give at least a token gift for your good cause. I am afraid of what is happening in our country now. We must do what we can now. Best to you and your brother,"


This note is not unique. I receive several like it every June 19th. But this one struck me because the author managed to convey so much so succinctly. I was also impressed by its spirit. This person’s response to things being tough is to persevere and become even more active.

She’s right, the political situation is indeed frighteningly bad. So bad that even some progressive people are supporting a candidate who has changed the foreign policy of his predecessor from occupying Iraq to killing civilians with drones in Pakistan, who gives away unimaginable amounts of taxpayer money to Wall Street crooks, and supports assassinating American citizens without due process. The progressives who support him do so because he’s made some positive changes, and because they feel the alternative is even worse.

But dark as things appear, those who can remember that terrible day of June 19, 1953, when many felt our nation was careening toward fascism, will also remember the progressive resurgence that followed. People did not give up because times were tough, they tried harder and some of their efforts bore fruit. The author of the note I quoted above inspires me to persist in working for economic and social justice. Yes, it is nice to win, but we work to make the world a better place because it is the right thing to do. That’s the attitude I take away from the 59th anniversary of my parents’ execution, and if I should live so long, I hope I still feel that way when I’m 95½.

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