If any of y’all get a chance between now and Tuesday at midnight, would you kinda cast a kindly eye toward the sky or the ocean or a tree or even a blade of grass and mumble something like “Michael said to tell you he said, ‘Thank you, Mike.’”?


Mike died last night up in Northern California. He was kind of a show-off and a glad-hander and I didn’t always agree with everything he did, but in 1971 he insisted on reading something in a public forum that me and a lot of Vietnam Veterans Against the War had been trying to get said out loud since at least 1967.


After having spent three months in solitary confinement followed by four years of trying like hell to do my duty to my country and my friends-and-comrades-who-were-still-in-the-military while literally being called—to my face, almost always by civilians not to mention draft-dodgers and the otherwise deferred—a “traitor” (and, yes, I was literally spit on by pro-war construction workers, among others), when news of Senator Mike Gravel’s reading broke I remember feeling not so much vindicated as finally welcomed home to a land I swore I never left.


Here’s a bit of today’s New York Times piece:

“Mr. Gravel drew much more national notice on June 29, 1971. The New York Times and other newspapers were under court injunctions to stop publishing the Pentagon Papers, a secret, detailed government study of the war in Vietnam.


“He read aloud from the papers to a subcommittee hearing that he had quickly called after Republicans thwarted his effort to read them to the entire Senate. He read for about three hours, finally breaking down in tears and saying, ‘Arms are being severed, metal is crashing through human bodies — because of a public policy this government and all of its branches continue to support.’ (In a major ruling on press freedom, the injunction against The Times was overturned by the Supreme Court the next day.)”


So if between now and Tuesday, the anniversary of the reading, you’d just, like I said, cast a kindly eye toward the sky or the ocean or a tree or even a blade of grass or some such and mumble something like “Michael said to tell you he said, ‘Thank you, Mike’”, I’ll be one truly grateful tear-stained old man.



P.S.: When I went to look up tear-stained to see if it should be hyphenated (It should), I stumbled on my horoscope for today (Thank you, Farlex Dictionary app), which read:


Things may be moving a bit too quickly today for you to grab hold of anything, Aquarius. There’s an element of the unexpected entering into the equation. Be prepared. The mood of the day is especially light and perhaps a bit superficial. People may not be entirely reliable. If there’s something you absolutely need to do, consider doing it by yourself.”