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A Quiet Anniversary

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 parents’ execution, and for the first time in many years I am commemorating it quietly at home. I’m 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 I’d 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 I’ve 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. I’m grateful that I don’t 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 government’s unjust termination of my parents’ 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 couldn’t do the kind of things I’ll 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 – in knowing that Ethel and Julius’ children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren will be able to spend today engaged in typical life activities.

Next year, in September, we’ll commemorate the centenary of my mother’s 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.
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