THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 465, April 27, 2008
"This Ain't the Summer of Love"
Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise
My Uncle Manuel Ramirez died on the 11th of April, 2008. He was 90 years old, and he died basically of being 90 years old.
He was born in Mexico just before his father Martin Ramirez found it necessary to leave Mexico due to an allergy to lead and a habit of getting caught in the crossfire between Carranza and Villa. my Grandfather supported his children (ten of whom survived to adulthood) as a railroad carpenter until he was blacklisted for Union activity, then worked as a freelance handyman as a handyman until pro-union legislation during the New Deal got him off the blacklist.
Manuel was drafted just before the US entered WWII and served with the 81st field artillery as a clerk at HQ due to poor eyesight from a childhood injury. He served in the Aleutians and in Europe, having the luck (take your choice, good or bad) to be in Belgium in December of 1944. He was given a tour of one of the death camps after he ran off at the mouth. One version is that he criticized the mistreatment of German civilians, the other has it that he dismissed reports of the camps as propaganda.
After the War he got a job as a clerical worker at White Sands at the same time that his older brother Apolonio was working for Hughes and McDonald-Douglas building Titan and Saturn rockets. While Manuel never married, Uncle Polo raised five kids into the middle class. Manuel stayed home to help his Mother, Father, and sisters.
The Ramirez's came to the US as refugees from the Mexican Revolution just as the US was entering WWI. The main form of transportation of the place they left was horse and wagon. Martin Ramirez supported his family working on the railroads, and in spite of the problems of raising ten kids during the Depression and WWII was able to work his family's way into the middle class and help his grandchildren. His sons worked getting men to the moon. Along the way my Uncle Manuel did his share to help save the world from Hitler and Tojo's paranoid fantasies. When Manuel died the US was at war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In spite of being born during war, having his life punctuated by war, and dying while his adopted country was at war, Manuel Ramirez was a gentle and good man. In spite of the Great Depression and living in one of the U.S.'s poorest cities he and his family prospered. He enjoyed freedom as an American. While he left no children behind, he left a bunch of nephews and nieces behind and we benefit from the freedom he helped defend.
Respect for his memory is now one of the reasons I will continue to speak up, both in TLE and other media venues and as a classroom teacher, to help try to protect the freedoms we still have as Americans, regaining the freedoms we've lost, broadening our freedoms, and spreading those freedoms as widely as possible.