June 19th, 1953; Not all Bad?

I could easily fill up a book with the stories people have told me about the impact the events that took place on June 19th, 1953 had on their lives. That was the day my parents were executed. Most of the stories are sad, even tragic. Others can make you very angry. But there were also some good things that happened on that day.

I received the following note from a supporter yesterday:

“On the day of the scheduled execution of your parents my then ‘boy friend’ and I went to Union Square to wait to hear of a possible stay. Then we heard the horrible news. The crowd moaned and both of us began to cry. When I saw his tears I knew that this was a man I would want to marry! We are still married!”

Actually, this story is not so unique. In fact, it fits what I think of as a pattern of resolve. I’ve heard from dozens of people in that crowd of up to 10,000 that the experience of that rally and the intensity of the emotion that swept through that gathering, for them set in motion a lifetime of activism. Since I’ve only had the privilege of meeting a small number of those who attended that rally, there must have been hundreds of people in Union Square that day who in reaction to my parents’ execution swore that they’d dedicate their lives to working for peace and justice. And I know from personal experience that many kept their promise.

June 19th, 1953 will never be a good day for me. But thinking about the amount of good that must have been accomplished by all the people who were moved to a life of activism by their experiences on that day, gives me great comfort.

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