A Letter to Howard Zinn: I wrote this email to Howard Zinn, a very prominent left wing former professor of history at Boston University. I met him at Boston University when I went there in the late 1960's. He and a few other professors overtook my political soul. He was the most influential professor I had and honed my beliefs for a lifetime. I had a chance encounter at a local restaurant when I was with my cousin eating lunch. I said the following:
Dear Professor Zinn. I could not believe when you walked past me and my cousin facing you said you won't believe who that was. Since I had my back toward you I did not see your face but could tell from your stature and the back EXACTLY who it was. I must say that I was thrilled to finally see you in person after so many years since BU. Since I have a disability it is not always possible for me to go to where you might be speaking so finally meeting you was delightful and made MY day!
At the risk of redundancy and hoping you do not get tired of hearing how important you were to students and in my life, you along with some historical events have shaped my philosophy and many political views. I have wavered now and then but not so very much. Some have criticized me for thinking TOO much about politics. I once had a friend say to me "politics, politics that's all you think about is politics!" I had to admit she was correct as I try, even to this day, to figure out what the truth really is. I still cannot quite do it. Certain things, though, I do know. So many unnecessary wars and horrendous killing have been this nation's policies for far too long pouring lives and treasure like water through a sieve.
Wars which did NOT need to be fought and so many people killed all over the world who did not need to die have been part of our nation's recent legacy. A very good friend of mine from my home town who also went to BU was killed in Vietnam shot down in a helicopter. Who remembers him now? Few. I do, though. I don't forget. He had joined ROTC at BU to get money for college and if he had not enlisted in ROTC he may have avoided the draft lottery and been alive today with children and even grandchildren. His fiance married another. With him the family line died out as his sister (my best friend) died early of cancer. They were a wonderful family whom I loved. I never forgot that day when we received the news of Donny's death. I visited the family, of course, and his mother sported a gold star. I thought a gold star -- a gold star THAT'S what they give you for a son? Insanity as former Defense Secretary Robert MacNamara, the Vietnam policy advocate and one who admitted the folly and lies of Vietnam, lived well into his 90's. Where is the justice?
After that and after hearing so many anti-war speeches by you and others of that era my political foundation was set. So I owe you all these years for imbuing me with a sense of questioning government policy always and not buying into all the claptrap of national propaganda which is very strong and very intoxicating. I do that for both wings of the spectrum but most especially, of course, for the rancid right as I call it.
You gave me so much and I appreciate it so much. After seeing you, I left with a general sense of love which cost me so little. It certainly cost less than the tuition of BU -- at that time -- which was $3,000 bucks including the cost of residence. I got a bargain!
I wish you well, thank you, and will continue to watch and listen to your speeches, often via UTUBE, whenever I can.