Saturday, January 30, 2010

In Memory Of Howard Zinn, 1922-2010

I was watching Bill Moyer's Journal on PBS last when he informed me of the death of Howard Zinn. He had just been on the Journal last month talking about history and a program on the History Channel, The People Speak. He was 87 years old, but had a vigor and interest in life that belied his years. He wrote the book, The People's History of the United States in 1980, but I didn't become acquainted with it until my 2005 retirement.
I had always liked history in school and, of course, was also interested in current events, but when I retired from working I was finally able to take the time to read as many books as I wanted. When you hold down a job in the modern day world, which is pretty much run by moneyed corporations to the detriment of their workers, you don't have a lot of time or energy to do anything but work. I figured out after retirement, that is exactly how they want it, a worker who is too tired to be well-informed meets their needs best, and cheaper.
So finally, in retirement, I haunted the library and started devouring books on history and current events. One of them was The People's History of the United States, by Howard Zinn. I soon realized that most of what I had been taught about American History in school had been a collection of bald-faced lies. By the end of the book, my eyes and mind had been opened and a deep sense of indignation took the place of my former trust in my country's government. A couple of years ago, a comic book version of the book was released, and I donated a copy of it to my local library. It is my fervent hope that more than one young person has been attracted by the format into reading it. Ours is not the history we were taught, the real, much uglier and honest version is contained in Zinn's book. It took me 62 years to really be educated about American History, and I am so grateful to him for making that possible. Thanks to him, I now ask questions about the news and don't just swallow it whole. I am much better informed about the reality of our country's government than ever before in my life. His search for truth has certainly aided mine.
I plan to re-check the book out next week and read it again so as to refresh my memory and to honor the truth-seeker who wrote it. Truth seekers and truth tellers are an endangered species in the United States of America. Howard Zinn was almost the last one left, and he will be remembered by many people who, like me, had their minds opened by him. It's a sad day for truth and honesty and justice, their defender has left us and counts on us to follow in his footsteps. I only hope we are up to the task! Rest in peace, Mr. Zinn. Thank you!

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