The Progressive Editor's note: This commentary first appeared on the website of The Progressive on May 27, 2013. This year on Memorial Day, we repost it in memory of all people working for change in our world—some are honored and remembered, others lesser known. Some are quiet essential workers, risking their lives while helping individuals day-to-day in this time of global pandemic.
For Memorial Day, it is customary to remember the soldiers who died for our country.
But I'm not one for custom, so, on this day, I'd like to remember the peace and justice activists who died for our country.
I remember, of course, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X, and Bobby Kennedy.
I remember Medgar Evers, an organizer with the NAACP, who was gunned down in Mississippi in 1963 while wearing a t-shirt that said, "Jim Crow Must Go."
I remember James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner, murdered in 1964 for trying to register black citizens to vote in Mississippi.
I remember Mark Clark and Fred Hampton of the Black Panthers, murdered by Chicago cops in 1969.
I remember Jeff Miller, Allison Krause, William Knox Schroeder, and Sandra Lee Scheuer, slain at Kent State by the Ohio National Guard on May 4, 1970.
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I remember Phillip Gibbs and James Green, slain by police at Jackson State just 11 days later.
I remember Karen Silkwood, anti-nuclear activist, killed in a highly suspicious car crash in 1974.
I remember Ben Linder, killed by the contras in Nicaragua in 1987.
I remember Judi Bari, one of the leaders of Earth First!, killed by a bomb in her car in 1999.
I remember Rachel Corrie, crushed to death ten years ago by an Israeli armored bulldozer in Gaza.
They all deserve a Memorial Day salute.