February 10, 2008

Remembering Gideon Rosenbluth

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I spent a good chunk of yesterday at a memorial celebration for a great comrade, Gideon Rosenbluth, who died last fall. 80 people--family, neighbors, fellow union members and veterans, and, in large numbers, those who had been his comrades in the '70s and '80s--gathered to remember him.

Rather than starting this post at the obvious place, by reprinting the short review of Gideon's life from the memorial flier everyone present was given, I want to reprint the moving message Michael McPhearson, the executive director of Veterans For Peace, sent from St. Louis. His message cites the connection between Gideon and another comrade who died last year, Dave Cline, whose life Fire on the Mountain has posted about extensively, starting here.

Michael's words also contain a profound and sorrowful insight, which I have taken the liberty of highlighting in boldface, because they resonate so strongly with me:

I last spoke to Gideon Rosenbluth sometime ago after he left NYC. He was in good spirits and wanted to know what was happening nationally. He asked me about VFP vets in Kentucky and if they were active. We talked for a while. Before I hung up I promised to call him back and said I hoped to see him in the near future. Unfortunately, we never talked again.

Gideon was one of the first veterans I met when I joined Veterans For Peace. He, with a handful of others, was the first WWII vet outside of my uncle with whom I really had a chance to sit and talk. I met him during one of the NYC veteran meetings. I was impressed with his sharpness and fierce resistance to the hypocritical and immoral actions of our government. At the time he was also on the VFP board. I was recently reading past VFP board minutes and guess who nominated David Cline for VFP Board of Directors President on January 13, 2002 in Saint Louis ? That’s right, Gideon.

Gideon’s death is very sad for me because I wanted to know this great man better, but the demands of the struggle against this war have taken over all of our lives, and at the time his as well. Ironically the war has brought people together who would have never know each other, like me and Gideon. Then it steals our time and emotions from us so that we cannot fully enjoy life with each other. Gideon is a comrade VFP will sorely miss and one we are all happy and lucky to have known.

Thank you Gideon from everyone in VFP and especially from those who had the honor to serve with you.

Michael T. McPhearson
Veterans For Peace
Executive Director

What follows is a brief outline of Gideon's life, in the form it was given out at the celebration. A slideshow by his nephew and testimony from many who knew him put flesh on these bare bones and conjured up the Gideon we know and loved. Some of us want to try and set up a permanent website where all of this material and more can be available to those who knew him and to the many more who might benefit from the lessons his life story holds.


Gideon Irving Rosenbluth

Born to a working class family in 1919, Gideon grew up poor in a Jewish neighborhood in New York, as it was rocked by the Great Depression. His family, his community and the broader world became a school where he learned that survival required struggle and class solidarity.

Gideon enlisted in the Army right after Pearl Harbor in 1941. He served in North Africa, Italy, France and Germany, and was demobilized as T-5 (sergeant) in 1945.

After the war, Gideon became a garment worker. He worked in the needle trades for 35 years, and was an active rank and filer in his union, District 65. When he felt the union leadership was wrong, Gideon was not one to bite his tongue. Even after he retired in the 1980’s and District 65 was merged into the United Auto Workers, Gideon served for years as President of UAW Local 2179 Retirees.

Gideon also became active around veteran's issues at the war's end, joining the battle in NYC for housing for married vets. (He and his wife Phyllis needed it, for themselves and their daughter Karen Eve Pass.) This was another struggle he stuck with for the rest of his life. He was active in supporting Veterans from the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, protested the Vietnam War as a veteran, and became a core member of Chapter 34 of Veterans For Peace, becoming especially active after the invasion of Iraq.

Gideon Rosenbluth was, and remained to his death, a revolutionary, convinced that a better world is possible and determined to help bring that world into being. Those who came to know him over the last two or three decades of his life were always surprised to hear how old he really was. His verve, his sense of humor, his appetite for living and for struggling, kept him in the thick of things until close to the end.

He is missed...


Unknown said...

I'm Gideon's grandaughter. thank you so very very much, this made my day. I miss him and think about him a lot of the time. I can only hope to continue his work in making this world a better place. Thank you again. In solidarity, Meredith Pass

Unknown said...

Hello. I'm Amy Rosenbluth. I was doing some family research when I came upon this tribute to Gideon Irving Rosenbluth. I though I'd made a mistake but after reading a bit I realised that Mr. Roenbluth is most probably my great uncle. I grandfather is David Rosenbluth. He was also in the military and is turning 91 this year. He always speaks fondly of his family. My respects to Mr. Rosenbluth and his family