On International Woman’s Day I reposted an article that I wrote a year ago. In it I named a few women that most influenced me in my life and the path I choose for myself. One of those mentioned was Ann Yellin, a woman that I knew from childhood.
Someone else I know from childhood is my dear friend Matt, he has a Blog that is worth visiting (it’s in my links).
Matt wrote a beautiful tribute to this wonderful person, Ann, in honour of her 90th birthday. It’s a must read and is presented below. To see the original, including photos click HERE.
Thanks Matt…. you are still the greatest!
I came of age in the 1960’s. I cut my eye teeth in the political struggles for civil rights and the fight to end the war in Vietnam. The 60’s were just 30 years out from the terrible times of the Great Depression and a mere 15 years from the end of World War II. Today, Vietnam is a distant memory and, I think, if you asked young people about the depression and the second world war, many would be hard pressed to give you much insight into either. To a large extent that’s a product of our corporate controlled mass media and culture which wants us to forget our history. As they say, those who ignore the lessons history are bound to repeate it. The Great Depression holds lessons for today’s struggles against economic injustice, just as the echoes of Vietnam reverberate from the walls of Baghdad.
I learned my lessons and incorporated my values from my parents. The sons and daughters of the immigrant waves who poured into this country in the early parts of the 20th century, their parents gave them a keen awareness of economics and politics,having fled the hard times and repression of Europe and other parts. Their parents also imbued them with a sceptical eye critical of the promised blessings of American capitalism where the streets were said to have been paved with gold. More often, those streets were home to those out of work and hungry for a bit of food. They quickly learned that in America they had to stand together or they would die apart. And so they organized. The built the mighty trade union movement and with that came other victories: social security, unemployment insurance, a 40-hour work week, health insurance. Without a knowledge of history and the sacrifices of those who came before, these social benefits have often been taken for granted by the generations that followed (perhaps not so much any longer in the age of Bush)not knowing that they were the fruit of many a bitter struggle and were not given from on high but instead wrested from the political establishment and the corporate power that had run the country without a care for those who worked for a living.
And then that generation went to war as an evil fascism decended on the world. They understood the danger and rose to the challenge and, with great loss of life and limb, defeated it. It’s no wonder they were called the Greatest Generation!
It was with this appreciation that I attended, yesterday, the 90th birthday celebration of a dear friend, Anne Yellin. Friends of my parents, forever it seemed, Anne and Jack Yellin were residents of the same Manhattan Beach community that I grew up in. Jack, who died many years ago, was an electrician. He was one of those brave band of so-called premature anti-fascists, joining the redoutable Abraham Lincoln Brigade to fight in Spain where Franco, with Hitler’s help, was trying to overthrow the democratically-elected government.
Anne was a registered nurse. But she was also a consummate activist, participating in and leading every struggle that confronted the people from civil rights to health care. And she was always, always active in the fight for world peace, be it the movmement to end the war in Vietnam or joining with tens of thousands of others to end the threat of nuclear armageddon. To this day, she remains active in these wonderfully humane activities. So this was not just a celebration of a 90th birthday, an important accomplishment in its own right. It was also a celebration of a wonderful and meaningful life – one dedicated to helping people, caring about people, caring about our planet. If there is anything more eloquent that can be said about a person’s life and its meaning, I don’t know what it is.
Happy Birthday to you Anne and thank you for all that you’ve done. May we all appreciate Anne Yellin and others of her generation that stood up to be counted when it mattered most. May we all learn from her generation and use that knowledge as we face the challenges of today and tomorrow.