After I resigned my military commission as a naval officer because I lost motivation from the Vietnam War, I wondered what I could do for my future to make my life worthwhile. My best high school friend was in town as a civil rights lawyer and asked if I wanted to watch him argue a case for Cesar Chavez’s fledgling union against wine growers’ attorneys.
(Civil rights lawyer Jerry Cohen addresses UFW crowd with an inspirational speech)
(Cesar Chavez and his two German Shepherds)
His arguments demolished the private property claims of the ten slick business attorneys for the wine industry who tried to paint the farm workers as law-breaking scum. I was convinced I could never do anything so challenging. He convinced me that with determination and a subject that inspired me, I could do anything I set my mind on. Since I was motivated by the concept of justice, watching him win against his formidable opponents provided the spark I needed. Before long I too was a civil rights lawyer pursuing justice for the powerless. My life had been transformed into meaningful work every day.
(Dan, Joan, and Aleksey at the Gallo March during the Boycott; photo from fellow Hastings College of Law friend and classmate, Howard Watkins of Fresno)
I had a similar challenge when beginning to write my memoir, which took great determination, study, and practice at word art from authors and professors of creative writing. It appeared such a daunting task with a life of so many unconnected lively experiences, how could I create a book that would accomplish my purpose of sharing my inspiration? With their encouragement I developed my craft and in six years a book.
How does what you do connect you to your greatness or your potential? Gaining confidence from a friend who knows your potential is a great asset. My father, on the other hand, discouraged me from the practice of law and said I could never pass the bar exam. Having had the opportunity to argue civil rights cases for the poor and powerless was an opportunity to achieve greatness for a righteous cause. Others said I did great work and had been transformed from the friend they knew before as an athlete, but not an advocate for the poor that made a difference in so many lives. That made me gain confidence as did my friend’s coaching and that of my professors and writing coaches when I retired and wrote my book.
(Dan reads from his memoir, All the Difference, at a book signing locally)
What wisdom or guidance can I share for others? Don’t always follow your father’s advice, or that of anyone else who does not know your motivation, passion, and determination. If you have a passion to do something some people don’t believe possible, you should not be discouraged. You can do anything you set your mind to accomplish with undying determination, a reasonable goal, and the necessary training. You can always improve yourself and your future with tenacity, resilience, and the right motivation. Seek out positive people if others discourage your dream. Even if no one sees you as you want to become, you should follow your heart, but don’t forget to carry your mind with you on your journey.
(Dan bottom left played second base for Coronado American Legion team at 13 with mostly 15 and16 year-olds)
How could I have made the impulsive decisions that rocked my turbulent youth? What made me change from a fad-loving teenager collecting popular songs, memorizing major league batting averages, and dreaming of becoming a professional baseball player, into a solemn born-again fundamentalist? That deflected me from my own purpose. I almost claimed conscientious objector status, and then quit Duke N.R.O.T.C. to enter a pre-ministerial program, only to find the more I studied religion the less I wanted to preach it to others.
(Duke University Chapel and courtyard)
My father said he could not afford the steep tuition and said I should try for an appointment to the U. S. Naval Academy despite my lack of interest in the military! Since he and my brother graduated Annapolis I did the craziest thing to afford college, and entered Columbia Prep School in Washington D.C.to study how to score high on entrance exams. After three months I took the exams and was only one of 75 people to receive a presidential appointment from Dwight Eisenhower in the United States! Dad took me to see a patriotic movie about the Battle of Midway that changed the outcome of WWII in the Pacific due to our naval power despite Pearl Harbor that did so much damage that brought determination to build a strong military to protect our freedom.
(Midshipmen at the U.S.Naval Academy march into Bancroft Hall)
After entering Annapolis much forced me to realize this journey into a naval career had many negatives from my perspective. During my plebe year an upperclassman in revenge for the way my brother treated him, ran me into the ground with harassment until I developed mononucleosis and was sent to the hospital for five weeks ending my chance to quarterback the plebe football team as my coach and I wanted. Later I had the worst varsity baseball coach ever, who wrongly believed my father "got me into Annapolis" so kept me on the bench after I had a great year leading the plebe team with a .516 batting average. After graduation from the U.S. Naval Academy I wanted to fly airplanes but my eyesight dipped slightly and I could only qualify as a navigator. My plane was called the "Flying Coffin" by aviators because more than 50% were lost in accidents, and mishaps and was an easy target in Vietnam. After three close calls in training both my pilot and I transferred into ships and I navigated 300 marines to Vietnam.
(Dan flew in the RA5C Vigilante and was Carrier Qualified)
Forced to scrutinize my journey, filled with mistakes, nearly killed by a train on a trestle at 10 hitting rocks with a bat; dodging two trains after leading high school football players into a narrow train tunnel in Japan: escaping from two thugs at a beach, having many confrontations with brutal and malicious bullies at Annapolis and one officer in the navy; surviving the “flying coffin” Mach 2 jet in Florida; I rebounded by earning a Reginald Heber Smith Fellowship for two years as a community civil right lawyer after law school at UC Hastings in San Francisco. Selected as Director of the Farm Worker Project by the ACLU I won my first trial for six picketers accused of disturbing the peace; won many motions and appeals in 17 class actions and other police misconduct cases against growers, prosecutor, a sheriff and the Teamsters. I worked for one of the most effective civil rights organizations battling against some of the most powerful forces in America.
(Dan at his civil rights law office in Encino California)
From a Naval Aviator, to a Navigator of an Amphibious Ship to Vietnam with 300 marines, I eventually resigned, found my purpose and after law school when I went from a legal aid attorney to a staff attorney for the United Farm Workers and then director of the ACLU farm worker project. I had been propelled into a powerful movement that was an answer to a dream. I submerged myself into the cutting edge of civil rights and consumer litigation as a member of a team with all the energy I possessed. Meanwhile, Joan and I raised a family that fulfilled my vision coupled with my quickly learned advocacy skills that enabled me to continue a profession on a path others said would be impossible—it was one few traveled—but I met enough dedicated individuals whose life shined that I knew it was right for me. Recovering from each fiasco and having learned a lesson each time, I began to define a vision of what might occupy the rest of my life: a pursuit of social justice in whatever way I could find appropriate. The pieces fell together through hard work, determination, and a future with a woman who inspired me and calmed my wildness from swirling rapids to a deep river that refreshed and enabled me to continue against all odds. Once I found a path that consumed me with passion I aimed as high as I could. No matter what confronts the reader, my story demonstrates an ordinary person can survive major conflicts, disappointments, injuries, risk of death, and still flourish.
Christopher Columbus has been presented to many children in our schools as a brave explorer who "discovered" America, as if those indigenous natives on the Caribbean Island in the Bahama's, called the Taino, had no history or culture of their own. Many American cities have re-evaluated Columbus Day and replaced it with Indigenous People's Day as more appropriate when the true history of exploitation, enslavement, and torture unfolded. The native Taino people of the island were systematically enslaved via the encomienda system implemented by Columbus, which resembled a feudal system in Medieval Europe.
Disease played a significant role in the destruction of the natives; however there is no record of any massive smallpox epidemic in the Antilles until 25 years after the arrival of Columbus. The truth is the natives' numbers declined due to extreme overwork, other diseases, and a loss of will to live after the destruction of their culture by the invaders. When the first pandemic finally struck in 1519 it wiped out much of the remaining native population. According to the historian Gonzalo Fernandez de Oviedo y Valdes by 1548, 56 years after Columbus landed, fewer than five hundred Taino were left on the island.
Columbus' treatment of the Hispaniola natives was even worse as his soldiers raped, killed, and enslaved them with impunity at every landing. When Columbus fell ill in 1495, soldiers were reported to have gone on a rampage, slaughtering 50,000 natives. Upon his recovery, Columbus organized his troops' efforts, forming a squadron of several hundred heavily armed men and more than twenty attack dogs. The men tore across the land, killing thousands of sick and unarmed natives. Soldiers would use their captives for sword practice, attempting to decapitate them or cut them in half with a single blow.
Howard Zinn writes that Columbus spearheaded a massive slave trade. For example, in 1495 his men captured in a single raid 1500 Arawak men, women, and children. When he shipped five hundred of the slaves to Spain, 40% died en route.Historian James W. Loewen asserts "Columbus not only sent the first slaves across the Atlantic, he probably sent more slaves – about five thousand – than any other individual... other nations rushed to emulate Columbus." When slaves held in captivity began to die at high rates, Columbus switched to a different system of forced labor. He ordered all natives over the age of thirteen to collect a specified amount (one hawk's bell full) of gold powder every three months. Natives who brought the amount were given a copper token to hang around their necks, and those found without tokens had their hands amputated and were left to bleed to death.
The Arawaks attempted to fight back against Columbus's men but lacked their armor, guns, swords, and horses. When taken prisoner, they were hanged or burned to death. Desperation led to mass suicides and infanticide among the natives. In just two years under Columbus' governorship more than half of the 250,000 Arawaks in Haiti were dead.The main cause for the depopulation was disease followed by other causes such as warfare and harsh enslavement.
Samuel Eliot Morison, a Harvard historian and author of a multi-volume biography on Columbus writes, "The cruel policy initiated by Columbus and pursued by his successors resulted in complete genocide." Loewen laments that while "Haiti under the Spanish is one of the primary instances of genocide in all human history", only one major history text he reviewed mentions Columbus' role in it.There is evidence that the men of the first voyage also brought syphilis from the New World to Europe. Many of the crew members who served on this voyage later joined the army of King Charles VIII in his invasion of Italy in 1495. After the victory, Charles' largely mercenary army returned to their respective homes, thereby spreading "the Great Pox" across Europe and triggering the deaths of more than five million people.
Columbus was involved heavily in the Sex Slave business. On his way back to Spain to stand trial for accusations of abuse of Spaniard colonists, he wrote a letter to the nurse of the son of Ferdinand and Isabella, pleading his case. Among it he wrote:
"Now that so much gold is found, a dispute arises as to which brings more profit, whether to go about robbing or to go to the mines. A hundred castellanos are as easily obtained for a woman as for a farm, and there are plenty of dealers who go about looking for girls; those from nine to ten are now in demand, and for all ages a good price must be paid."
No wonder after learning of these revelations many cities have changed Columbus Day into Indigenous People's Day.The idea of replacing Columbus Day with a day celebrating the indigenous people of North America first arose in 1977 from the International Conference on Discrimination Against Indigenous Populations in the Americas, sponsored by the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.At the First Continental Conference on 500 Years of Indian Resistance in Quito, Ecuador, in July 1990, representatives of Indian groups throughout the Americas agreed that they would mark 1992, the 500th anniversary of the first of the voyages of Christopher Columbus, as a day to promote "continental unity" and "liberation."
After the conference, attendees from Northern California organized to plan protests against the "Quincentennial Jubilee" that had been organized by the United States Congress for the San Francisco Bay Area on Columbus Day, 1992, to include, among other things, sailing replicas of Columbus' ships under the Golden Gate Bridge and reenacting their "discovery" of America. The delegates formed the Bay Area Indian Alliance, and, in turn, the "Resistance 500" task force,which advocated the notion that Columbus was responsible for genocide of indigenous people.
In 1992, the group convinced the city council of Berkeley, California, to declare October 12, a "Day of Solidarity with Indigenous People", and 1992 the "Year of Indigenous People", and to implement related programs in schools, libraries, and museums. The city symbolically renamed Columbus Day to "Indigenous Peoples' Day" beginning in 1992 to protest the historical conquest of North America by Europeans, and to call attention to the demise of Native Americanpeople and culture through disease, warfare, massacre, and forced assimilation. Performances were scheduled that day for Get Lost (Again) Columbus, an opera by a Native-American composer. Berkeley has celebrated Indigenous Peoples' Day ever since.Beginning in 1993, Berkeley has held an annual pow wow and festival on the day
In the years after Berkeley's move, other local governments and institutions have either renamed or canceled Columbus Day, either to celebrate Native Americans, to avoid celebrating actions of Columbus that led to the colonization of America by Spanish conquistadors, or due to controversy over the legacy of Columbus.Two other California cities, Sebastopol and Santa Cruz, now celebrate Indigenous Peoples' Day.
Whose history are we really talking about is a great question to focus on as it raises where we came from, our history, and everyone else's. We have learned from different teachers. The history many of us grew up with involved powerful kings, queens, wars, governments, and the development of parliamentary democracy with some historical and romantic novels. But for the British when England leaves the Catholic Church in 1534 major changes occurred after Henry the VIII that changed how we approach the subject.
By the time we hit university things were already changing. Marxism had arrived bringing a heightened attention to the arc of class and economics. Many works like them have helped to revolutionize our view of the past, but surely began filling up with depth from new historical knowledge.
Another force connected with women involved half the population followed by equally powerful questions about race and racism. The idea of history as a procession of dead white males written by live ones may sound ridiculous now, but the war to open up a wider perspective was a real one. So writers of history began demonstrating different point of emphasis and views. Soon the teaching of science and engineering became increasingly important.
All exposes the current assault on the humanities within higher education as even more uncultured. The thinking goes like this: the study of history, English, philosophy or art doesn't help anyone get a job and does not contribute to the economy to the same degree that science or engineering or business studies do. I believe most of us say balderdash.
The humanities, including history, teach people how to think analytically while at the same time appreciating innovation and creativity. Isn't that a good set of skills for most jobs?
One could wish that the historians were all more accurate. Who would dare mess with science in the way some fool with history.
Toni Morrison brought to life the inner life of slavery, and pushed the modern reader to confront this reality. Another confronted the same difficult history from a white woman's perspective. One memoir produces anti-war feelings from gross misuse of power. Another accuses those who cringe at the horrors of Hiroshima as "hand wringers". Any society that doesn't pay proper attention to whose history we are exploring, and from what perspective, maybe starving his/her own imagination and missing an opportunity to participate spreading useful historical knowledge so mistakes of the past may be understood and avoided in the future.
The "Onion" where S.U.U.S. holds services, events, music, and presentations:
August 19, 2015 Helen Jacard spoke to the Sepulveda Unitarian Universalist Society about the Golden Rule, a 30-foot ketch and its crew, Capt. Albert Bigelow, William Huntington, George Willoughby, and Orion Sherwood, which was stopped by the Coast Guard from interfering with nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands in 1958. They were part of an international movement to stop the atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons. They were arrested at Honolulu, Hawaii.
Another peace keeping yacht, The Phoenix, led by Earl Reynolds, Skipper, Barbara (wife), Ted (son), Jessica (daughter), and Nick Nakami, crew member, sailed The Phoenix, into the nuclear test zone to protest nuclear testing in 1958 and were arrested. Earl was a physical anthropologist whom the Atomic Energy Commission sent to Hiroshima to research the effects of radiation on children. In 1961 they sailed to Vladivostok, Russia, with Thomas C, Yoneda replacing Nick as a crew member to share their message to the Soviet Union. For extraordinary civil disobedience, they were branded as traitors in the U. S., while Japan held them up as national heroes.
The Golden Rule was resurrected, repaired, with the help of Garberville Chapter of Veterans For Peace and other West Coast Chapters formed a movement to bring her back to sail again on June 20th 2015 carrying their peace and anti-nuclear weapon message for the next two months in California (set forth below). They plan to undertake a ten-year peacemaking voyage around North America challenging military solutions to the world problems. Helen is a part of the crew and member of Women International League For Peace and Freedom.
Albert Bigelow, is author of the book, Voyage of the Golden Rule, and a former naval officer in WWII who resigned his commission a month before he was eligible for a pension. “To Russia with Love,” An American Family Challenges Nuclear Testing, by Jessica Reynolds Renshaw, follows the Phoenix on its mission to spread the truth about radiation from nuclear testing and finding peaceful solutions rather than military ones.
Golden Rule Schedule:
8/ 27-29 in Long Beach
8/30 Arlington Memorial
8/31-9/ 1 Marina Del Rey
9/3-9/19 Seal Beach, San Luis Obispo, Morro Bay, Monterey, Santa Cruz
9/21-10/10 San Francisco Bay
10/12 Morro Bay/ Ft. Bragg
(Never, ever, again!)
VVAW member Daniel C. Lavery graduated Annapolis, navigated a Navy jet, and a ship, turned peace activist and became a civil rights lawyer for Cesar Chavez's UFW. His memoir, All the Difference, describes his experiences. www.danielclavery.com. He regularly attends the Onion presentations since 1980