I remember how he began the story of attending an event at which a lecturer from Berkeley addressed the packed John Glas Fieldhouse on the campus of Bemidji State University. The man was native American. The first words out of his mouth were, “You Christian sons of bitches”.
“You could have heard a pin drop”, my dad would say. “Then the man repeated his words. You Christian Sons Of Bitches. There were some nuns in the front row, looking down at the floor”.
The lecturer went on to tell how the U.S. Army awarded 20 medals of honor to the 7th Cavalry for the shooting deaths of at least 150 Lakota men, women and children on the Pine Ridge Reservation in SD, Dec. 29, 1890. Babies were found still nursing their dead mothers.
One of his hospice nurses later said to me, “Your dad is very outspoken about social justice issues”.
I remember how he would say there would not be peace in the Middle East until the Israelis (whom he called Israelites) admitted they had taken their land from the Palestinians. “The same way we took land away from the Indians here”, he would add.
A lot of what my dad said comes back to me. He was an admirer of labor leaders John Lewis and Jimmy Hoffa. “They were roughnecks and maybe they cooperated with organized crime”, he would say, “but they put milk in stomachs of innocent babies”.
I find myself telling my dad’s stories. His truth…plain, unvarnished, sometimes hard to swallow and sometimes lacking in nuance…was far more credible than some of the spin that passes for truth nowadays.