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It suprised and moved my heart when I wrote this and sent it to you all
on Labor Day last year, a few days before 9-11. I received some of the
sweetest letters in response. I saved a few. They were wonderful.

Right now I'm listening to the local programming on KPFT radio. The
station is currently in the midst of a fund drive, and the telephones
are ringing off the wall in support of a new worker's program. When was
the last time anybody formed a labor union? I hear so many complaints
about the old ones. They're too big, they're too corrupt, blah blah
blah. But nobody mentions forming new ones. Or maybe I've just been in
the wrong place until a few years ago, so I haven't heard about them.
Who knows.

When the bugler played Taps at the cemetary yesterday (the gun salute
made me jump out of my skin!) I looked across the pavillion at my Dad,
who stood with the other pallbearers. He squeezed his eyes shut and bit
his lip. But he still had to open them and wipe the tears away. After
all, they have been friends about 50 years. And this life has been a
hell of a lot more valuable to him and his family than, oh, Ken Lay's,
maybe. Let us never forget what that ******* did to workers.

So I'm posting this letter again as a tribute to all working people,
especially to those dear ones who understand that extremely shy little
girls who prefer caterpillars, Jane Goodall, and dogs to pink ribbons
and tea parties may have something to offer to others some day, despite
their quirky personalities. It's not that they don't like people. It's
just that they cannot be anything but themselves, and different isn't
always bad. After all, it takes a special person to be a member of the
Sierra Club and ride a bicycle to work in Texas City, Texas, like Shorty
did for so many years.

Emanuel E. "Shorty" Munsch
1926-March 16, 2002
My Grandpa Munsch was an operator at the Monsanto petrochemical plant
Texas City, Texas in April, 1947. A French tanker with ammonium
for cargo caught fire in the harbor and blew up, which set off a chain
reaction of explosions. He was in a small building when it happened,
when he came to he was under water with bricks piled all around.
Thankfully he had the sense and ability to stand up, even though he
injured. The coins in his pants pocket were melted and corroded
together. My Dad showed them to me one time, and told me that his
and co-worker "Shorty", who is in the last stages of Alzheimer's
and helped clean up after the blast, will not eat crab meat to this
(those of you who have spent time on the coast will understand why).
They know around six hundred people died in the big '47 blast, but an
exact body count is impossible to come by.

My Dad worked there at the same plant for about 33 years. He paid for
our piano lessons, band instruments, road trips, and many of our
expenses. His hearing isn't too great as a result of being around
machinery for so many years, but we still have a great time listening
music together, especially the Beethoven symphonies. He is a member of
the AFL-CIO in a right-to-work state (or at least he was before he
retired). I remember the bus that used to come out to what was the
area where we lived to bring guys like him to work. We had a Dodge
back then, so he didn't take the bus very often.

I'm proud of my Pioneer/Blue-Collar background. I have just as much
right to feel this way as a Mayflower family member or anybody else.
so do the rest of you. One size doesn't fit all because we are all
individuals, each different from the other. Nobody has a right to try
shove us or our kids into some kind of test-o-matic box or try to make
us believe that the CEO is more a valuable Human Being than the person
who works with his or her hands.

Happy Labor Day,

See you at The Soapbox!

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