Robert Meeropol

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"Robby & Elli" 1968

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A Quiet Anniversary

June 19, 2014

Tags: June 19, 2014

At first I was perplexed by how much I was enjoying June this year. Yes, it is my first year of retirement. I have more time to work in my yard, enjoy the fine weather, and savor those magical evenings during which time slows and the sun seems to hover endlessly at the horizon. Then I realized that I had another reason.

Today is the 61st anniversary of my parentsí execution, and for the first time in many years I am commemorating it quietly at home. Iím convinced that humans make a big deal out of anniversaries in multiples of 10 because we have ten fingers. The RFC was not immune to this trend. Last year we staged a major program in New York City for the 60th. And although the years just before last were not multiples of ten Iíd spoken at significant, but smaller, events on June 19th in Rio de Janeiro, New York and Paris.

Every June 19th is an emotionally laden time, even when Iíve spent the day at home doing nothing in particular. Being part of public events on that date, however, added a layer of nervous tension. The June 19th stress had become so familiar that it took me a while to note its absence. Iím grateful that I donít have to organize anything or get on a plane this June 19th. I relish the pleasure of being able to pass the day engaged in ordinary activity.

Given the political consequences of the United States governmentís unjust termination of my parentsí lives, it makes sense that we mark the day with special events. But the personal tragedy of their execution was that a couple and their two young children were forever foreclosed from continuing their family life. My parents couldnít do the kind of things Iíll do this June 19th. I find satisfaction today - as I walk around the neighborhood, go to the grocery store, hang out with Elli, talk with my now middle-aged children Ė in knowing that Ethel and Juliusí children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren will be able to spend today engaged in typical life activities.

Next year, in September, weíll commemorate the centenary of my motherís birth. (Julius was almost two years younger.) I look forward to marking that milestone with something public and special. But some years, it is fitting, and satisfying, for the day to be marked in this quiet and personal way.

Selected Works

"Bravery is rare. Tyranny is commonplace. Both define the life of Robert Meeropol, son of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. In his heart-wrenching, honest memoir, Meeropol recounts the emotional terrors of his childhood, the kindness of Abel and Anne Meeropol-who adopted him and his older brother after their parents' execution-his struggle to vindicate his parents, and his own political activism, culminating in the creation of the Rosenberg Fund for Children, which he now directs."
ĖPublisher's Weekly
"one of those rare books everyone should read"
ĖJoyce Carol Oates

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