March 13, 2005
Hey Will, sure glad I just browsed the Seven Days issue I had not read. I hadn't a clue you had cancer.
I've spent an hour at the write-in site -- a wonderful thing enabling me to learn more about your life and friends, plus I then visited your website where I enjoyed your updates and had fun with the Mark Fiore cartoons and will send them on to friends. What a great quote from Zinn, which I saved.
Your life, as Bob Rice points out, has been all about love and compassion and the multiplier effect of enabling others to succeed and do humane things.
From all the times I've witnessed or read about your draft counselling & advocacy, I imagine you have helped more than a thousand young people here from getting caught up in the military intervention machine that kills foreigners in the name of our or the foreigners' freedom. What a heroic achievement trying to put a monkey wrench in that machine and sparing the lives of many young and vulnerable people here!
I have fond memories of meeting you in the 1970's when I was exec director of ACLU-Vt and privately active in the anti-war movement. I remember you and Lynn inviting my wife (then) Lisa and me to dinner for my first all vegetarian meal. It wasn't a stir fry, but a delicious array of vegetarian dishes! I think the four of us later went to the Harrisburg demonstrations in support of the Berrigans and against the war and nuke build-up, slept on church floors, and marched with the Bread & Puppet.
We intersected other times to speak out against the Central American interventions and death squads.
For years I've been involved in start-up projects for appropriate technology or alternative energy to reduce pollution, avoided the frontlines of resistance here, while making contributions to an array of NGOs doing good works -- especially in the poorest countries.
I greatly admire your activism and humanity! You have inspired so many of us.
Meanwhile, good luck with the treatments, which seem to be a broad based counter-offense!
Kathy and Deep Ford
March 5, 2005
Dear Will and Anne,
First off, greetings of strength and hope for your current personal struggle.
So many of the messages on this website are about your contribution to the struggle for greater justice in the world. The laurels are well deserved.
I was inspired to add my comments today as I just returned from a protest outside the U.S. Embassy in Rome. Yesterday an Italian secret service officer was killed protecting Guiliana Sgrena, a journalist for the Communist Party of Rome's, Il Manifesto. She had been held hostage in Baghdad for a month and her release was just negotiated. She was near the airport on her way home when the assault by U.S. military forces occurred. It seems as though the forces of U.S. imperialism are at work again.
Will, you have stood for the people/the truth more consistently than most people that I know. For this I am thankful. You are a constant reminder that our children are important and the contribution that our career can make is important too but we still need to find the time and the gumption to engage in the struggle head on.
La lucha continua!
Kathy and Deep Ford
March 5, 2005
I had you as a Professor at UVM as well as a Professor in life. Your leadership and courage to fight for what is right has influenced me on many levels. Trying to create change through the electoral process has been an uphill stuggle that I face everyday. But your persistence and dogedness help inspire me to keep up the fights within the "establishment". None of the struggles has been been easy nor will they be in the future.
I hope that you are also taking on this struggle with the same determination and vigor of the many struggles of the past. You are a real leader that I can only hope to emulate in some small way. Thank you for your honesty and relentlessness!
March 4, 2005
I can't thank you enough for what you have done for me as a teacher. I returned to UVM after a hiatus mostly in response to my father's fears that if there were a draft then I would be eligible if I were not in college. I found myself treading water, studying things I already knew. Through your classes and our work with SPARC I opened my mind to a whole new perspective. This is not to say that I realized that "Will Miller speaks the truth, and everyone else lies". Instead I learned that no one speaks the truth, and indeed far too few people even speak at all. I learned to question everything, and even (at your urging) to question you. Will I want to thank you for teaching so many people how to live their lives more fully, in the hopes that we could somehow mirror the fullness of the life which you have lead. I think of you often, especially as I encounter many difficult decisions in my life, and I wish you health and happiness, as I know you will always fight for both.
Peace, love, respect, camraderie, and thanks,
March 3, 2005
That those we're parted from live on unchanged in our memories can be deceptive, but from the pictures on your home page, I'd say that you really are the same Will I once knew, only more so.
We were friends long ago, becoming vegetarians together, getting maced and jailed in Washington protesting the Vietnam War, and trying to wake up our students and shake up our legislators--work you've kept at with remarkable tenacity.
But since political engagement has been your life's theme, there for everyone to see if not always to appreciate, what I want to recall here is another side of you, for which a single anecdote will suffice. I was visiting the new house you were building in Weston, enjoying a beer with you up in the unfinished crow's nest, which was wide open to the air. Your cat came to socialize and jumped energetically onto what he doubtless expected would be the windowsill. It wasn't there. He spilled out onto the precipitous roof below, and--claws useless on the metal--slowly, agonizingly slid toward oblivion. In a flash you jumped up, strapped on your construction harness, tethered yourself, vaulted out the window, played out the line, scooped up the cat from roof's edge, and mountaineered your pet and yourself back to safety!
O bighearted Will, man of action--may your feisty spirit triumph!
March 1, 2005
Through the snaky pathways of independant radio and the internet I happen to stumble upon this website and your news from here in Washington.
I remember perhaps the only time I ever visited your home in VT, back in 1985 sometime. A fellow classmate offered their testimonial as we stepped into your cozy home: "these people are the real thing: they don't keep any white sugar in their house." A small, trivial detail in the life of a busy couple, but what it said was, not only are these folks dedicated in tackling worldly issues, but they bring it home and walk their talk.
I'm not sure I ever really had a conversation with you, and you would have little reason to remember me, but to this day I think about that day every time white sugar finds its way into my house.
Will, you have my permanent admiration for who you are, what you were to me back during our anti-apartheid campus triumphs and activism, and what you believe and are unafraid to say. If only our world had more people like you, and I hope you find a path to healing.
peace and deep admiration,
S. Burlington, Vermont
March 1, 2005
I've heard and read many great things about you, but, unfortunately, only met and heard you speak once. In January, 2003, I attended a direct action/civil disobedience workshop at UVM that you helped facilitate. I had the great fortune of being in the group that you led.
I will never forget your analogy for the United States' use of nuclear weapons. You explained that a bank robber is charged with "armed robbery" if he held a gun while committing his crime, even if the gun was never fired. Thus, you went on, although the United States detonated "only" two nuclear bombs with the intent of killing civiians, they actually "used" nuclear weapons several more times - against the Soviet Union, China and North Vietnam - threatening to explode them if those countries refused to do US bidding.
I use your analogy every year now in the history classes I teach at Essex High School.
Thank you; you are an inspiration.
S. Burlington, VT
Alfred "Tuna" Snider
March 1, 2005
Will has been my model and colleague for over 20 years. We didn't see each other that often (usually when the empire was cranking up a new atrocity) but we always knew of each other's work. As a teacher of philosophy Will seemed in harmony with my role as a teacher of debate and the debate coach here at UVM -- teach, inspire, lead, criticize and engage students so that they felt like they both wanted to and could think for themselves and then use the power of their voice to make a difference.
Will was at times a bit too doctrinaire for me, but he always seemed to be on the right side of the issues and was always activist and speaking out. My students were always talking about how Will gave them new perspectives that other faculty would not, and how he inspired them to take it out of the classroom and make it real.
My favorite Will Miller moment was April 22, 1999 when he and my current debate coach Justin Morgan Parmett (then a UVM debater) squared off in a public debate against arch-conservative UVM professor Robert Kaufman and the president of College Republicans Robert Pontbriand (also a UVM debater) on the topic that the USA should discontinue its role as the world's police force. Marsh 325 (biggest room on campus) was overflowing with over 400 peeple and they were stacked up outside to listen. It was a moving debate. There is a grainy (1999 was a bit early) streaming video of the debate at http://debate.uvm.edu/watchdebate.html listed under public debates. You can watch it for yourself.
I am moved by Will's current plight, and I am determined in response to do what I should have been doing anyway, speaking out more against this insane war in Iraq and standing against USA imperialism everywhere.
The Lawrence Debate Union http://debate.uvm.edu/ldu.html is planning a series of public debates. I will propose to the membership and campaign for the idea that one major debate each year focusing on these issues will be held in honor of Will Miller. Let the voices of those who knew him and those who did not carry forward the task of speaking out, even when it is unpopular, for what they believe is right.
Silence is complicity. Will was never complicit.
Most people sell out at some point. I don't think Frank Zappa ever did, and I don't think Will Miller ever did. The really precious stuff isn't for sale.
Babylon must and will fall.
Alfred "Tuna" Snider
New Haven, Vermont
February 26, 2005
Dear Will and Anne,
Last time I saw you was on a beautiful summer night at Anne and Orin's. We sat around a fire by the lake -- you must have just found out you might be very ill. I noticed that you, Anne, seemed worried about something and were unusually quiet, but Will, you were as talkative and generous as always, sharing your wealth of knowledge and critical insights on a whole variety of topics. I asked you for advice about I course I was preparing to teach, and you gave it, naturally.
I had a difficult semester with that course, after all. I had tried to connect the course content (which was writing) to social justice issues. How exhausting it is to try to wake the living dead! I thought often of you. If only I could be a Will Miller! But then you are one of those rare teachers whom we are lucky to come across once in a lifetime. How do I know? I have never sat in on one of your classes, but I have been in your presence. To be around you is to absorb learning like a dry sponge. I attended many teach-ins and rallies and meetings where you spoke; if I knew that you were going to speak, then I could be sure the event would be worthwhile. Will, you teach us that freedom – and I use the word reluctantly as it is so much abused lately – requires hard work. Truth has been buried – deep – and you did so much of the spadework needed to unearth it. Then, with the meticulous patience of the archeologist, you pieced the shards together into an intelligible pattern.
This is a quote I got from Julia Alvarez: "Feed the sea! Feed the sea! The little rivers dry up but the sea continues." That is what you have been doing – with your enormous heart and your enormous intellect– and it is what it means to live on, and on, and on.
Both of you are very much on my mind and I'm hoping from the bottom of my heart that you'll get well.
February 24, 2005
When I moved to Burlington in 1972, I worked as an apartment manager for the infamous Clark Hinsdale. One of the first tenants I had the privilege of meeting was you, Will and you shared the building with Ms.McSweeney, an elderly Catholic leftist. Getting to know you gave me hope that not everyone was just out for themselves. Your integrity, intellectual curiosity and steadfast resistance to the perpetrators of the decline of western civilization serve as a shining example of what can and must be done to reverse the insidious undermining of true freedom. Your words kindle the flames of struggle against oppression. Your actions demonstrate a selfless energy for the good of humanity.
Your logic class was one of the most stimulating and entertaining get togethers I ever had at UVM. Thank you for your years of pointing out to those of us who may lapse into complacency that everything is not OK!
Love to you and your family,
February 24, 2005
Greetings Will and Ann, from over the hill and down the road.
I was at a discussion group on Monday evening at the Westford Library regarding the Referendum for Peace that will be voted on at Town Meeting. I talked about how important it is to understand "Conscientious Objection", before it is to late. During the first Gulf war my son Travis was 19 year old, and I was having nightmares about a possible reinstatement of the draft. We were so grateful to you Will for coming to our house and helping us understand what to do. My son wrote to the President, among other things, and established his CO file. I truly credit you with opening and awakening his political/critical thinking life. As for myself, having been one of your students,well, you were a breath of fresh air in a stale and fearful environment. Your passion is a gift to all of us who's lives you have touched. May peace be in your hearts, and may peace come to the world.Your inspiration and contributions still in fect us with hope and commitment.
Love and Respect, Sandra
Miami Beach, Florida
February 24, 2005
I am saddened by your illness but glad you have lived your life the way you have. It is always remarkable to see a person who when treated badly fights back. You have been fighting all your life, at your university, against injustice, against death, giving a fine personal example for how radicals ought to live their lives.
West Hartford, CT
February 23, 2005
I had Will Miller as a teacher my freshman year for Philosophy 1 and after the first day of class I knew he was going to be the best teacher I will ever have at this school. I'm a senior now and he hasn't failed me yet. He gave every single student in the class the benefit of the doubt because he wanted each student to do the best they could. He is such a kind, warm hearted and extremely intelligent gentleman. I had only wished that I could have that determination and strong beliefs that he expressed each day. I was never very close with him, but he made such a lasting impression in my heart. He is my favorite professor at this university and he will be what I remember when I look back onto my college experience. With all my heart I wish you the best of luck and keep staying strong!!!!
February 22, 2005
A second entry from Michael Parenti
Will has brought to the UVM community a dedication to political truth, social justice, and world peace that has had a vital impact upon generations of students and even some faculty (the latter usually cannot be taught anything). Besides being a rewarding teacher and engaging thinker, he has been an unfailing political activist, ever true to his principles.
In 1973, I think it was, he managed to get the tenure he richly deserved largely because there had been such an uproar the year before over the failure to renew my contract. Will had a lot of popular support on campus. He himself told me that the reason the UVM authorities did not fire him--which they normally would have done because of his radical politics---was because they did not want to go through another storm. (That gives me the pleasure of thinking that I--or my case--had some small part in helping him get tenure.)
He was the only radical in the philosophy department at UVM to survive the ax. In subsequent years he also became active in the faculty union and remained a thorn in the side of some hidebound administrators. The three talks I gave at UVM since my departure in 1972 all happened because of Will's efforts and the student groups he was working with. To my knowledge none of my other former colleagues did much to get me back as a guest lecturer.
Though he was a popular teacher and published author, and though he prevailed in his battle for tenure, Will was made to pay for it. He was denied promotion and remained an assistant professor for 35 years with a salary frozen for most of that time at below that of a first-year instructor at UVM.
Will was pushed out of all courses required by philosophy majors. He was passed over for sabbatical for 13 years and finally received a one-semester leave only after threatening court action. After an additional 19 years, he got his second and last sabbatical. And he was perpetually passed over by the philosophy department for reduced teaching load, a consideration regularly granted to his departmental colleagues on a rotating basis.
In a word, the treatment accorded him by some administrators and his department chair has been vindictive, petty, and shameful. Given his abilities, I can only conclude that such mistreatment has been politically motivated. It makes me think that things have not improved all that much at UVM since I was denied renewal of contract in 1972.
When Will retires, there will be left an enormous gap at UVM. Just look at the love and appreciation expressed by so many of his friends and admirers of whom I am one.
February 22, 2005
Dear Ann and Will,
Thank you for your note acknowledging our recent donation. We have never met.
My son, David Buckingham, is a junior at UVM. Our family often spends winter weekends near Sugarbush, and David sometimes joins us. David invited my husband, our youngest son, and me to go to campus with him for the Karl Marx play last month. It was an interesting and entertaining experience, and as the event was a tribute to Will, we wanted to make a contribution.
I think David took a course with Will. In any event, he was planning to take Will's legendary Marxism class. I was aware that David was very fond of Will and was part of a larger group of students who were very distraught over Will's illness and wanted to do something to help. On receiving your note, I took time to look at Will's web site and learn something about the man who has so influenced my son. I now understand the love and devotion of so many of Will's students and I am very glad that David was fortunate enough to know you, Will. It may well have been his most important experience at UVM.
I wish you success in launching the lecture series.
February 16, 2005
i haven't seen you for over thirty years, but i think of you almost every day. and i'll tell you why. when we were philosophy students together at the university of illinois in the middle sixties you got me a job working with you as an electrician. i knew nothing about electricity but you gave me some rudimentary lessons. and more. you gave me a tool box and a set of tools i would need as an electrician. i still have that tool box and those tools. the red handled linemans pliers/wire cutters. the channel locks. i still use these tools and every time i open up the box i think of you. when i couldn't teach my wife marjorie how to drive in order to get her drivers license you volunteered and with supreme patience saw her through. we had our philosophy club with jerry swanson, our mentor the venerable max fisch. it was then that i began to understand who you were. we were both army veterans but you had fought the army and won when they recalled you unjustly. the secretary of the army himself, elvis starr, signing your release papers. you had the sharpest mind of any one i knew, you could argue your points with total clarity and could see through bad arguments and respond with incisive counters. at the same time you were never mean or petty and enlightenment was constantly your goal in mind. your gentleness combined with tenacious truth seeking made you a formidable and magnetic person. compassion and wisdom went together in your every deed and thought. i was honored to be your friend and still am. at the end of Plato's dialogue Phaedo, Crito, a young friend of Socrates, says this about his teacher: "Socrates was of all those whom we knew in our time, the bravest and also the wisest and most upright man." i have often thought of you as an authentic carrier of the Socratic tradition and hope we can get together soon and continue the discussion.
February 15, 2005
In my years as a student at UVM there were only a handful of professors I remember really plowing the furrows in my brain during those 3-hour weekly seminars. Somehow Will's classes flew by and I actually did the reading between sessions. For the most part I can't remember the precise topics of those philosophy classes. In retrospect they seem more like intro to the real world 101, 201, 301, and so on. Between the reading, the discussion and Will's enthusiasm and openness, he sparked a fire of curiosity that made me a lifelong learner, especially on subjects of politics, economics, global affairs and social issues. I use that "lifelong learner" term in its truest sense here. And long after those college years I reconnected with Will to probe new perspectives on issues while in the IBEW and, most recently, working on an ongoing television interview show.
Will has been a frequent guest on the show and he is not just one of my favorite interviewees, he is also a favorite among the crew each time. After the show Will departs leaving us all in the depths of discussion on many connected topics. His wealth of knowledge and willingness to share it has made me appreciate over and over the characteristics of a great teacher - one who doesn't need a classroom. His programs on RETN are some that we get the most response to and requests about. Sometimes Will and I will discuss what sort of response we're getting by phone or email from viewers, thinking it might be angry and critical. But the feedback we get is usually to thank us for talking with Will about the things no one talks about on TV. And doing it in an honest, well-researched way. What a treasure and a relief in the vast wasteland that entertains America!
I won't go on any longer, except to say that you continue to be a treasure, Will, and I've only touched on the academic/intellectual side. I look forward to our next videotaping as much as to the next warm hug we can share.
February 6, 2005
I must begin by seconding Justin Joffe's disclaimer regarding memory. As an historian, I am well aware of the fact that history and memory are not the same. I am also aware of the fact that we humans have trouble accepting this, convinced as we are that our memories hold the correct version of the past and have not been distorted by time. But of course they have. So apologies in advance, Will, for any distortions that follow.
I have known Will for almost 35 years now. I met him in the fall of 1970, when I arrived at UVM fresh out of the University of Wisconsin. Frankly, I felt at first that I had entered a time warp politically, given all that had been going on at Wisconsin and appeared not to be going on at UVM! But then I met Will, at a meeting of a pre-SPARC student group he was then advising (surprise!). I still remember that meeting, as well as the numerous gatherings that followed in Will's apartment on Hungerford Terrace, during which I met Michael Parenti and many like-minded younger colleagues in Will's department.
Like Justin, I remember our ensuing futile efforts to establish the Thomas Jefferson chair with a portion of our salaries to keep Michael Parenti at UVM, after the Board of Trustees fired Michael for what board members openly admitted were political reasons. I also remember our efforts to reverse the purge of the Philosophy Department, and our early efforts to establish a faculty union. But what I remember most of all are both Will's courage in speaking out on these issues and trying to organize the faculty and students in opposition, and the utter rage I felt over the hypocrisy and actions of the Board of Trustees and the Administration in these matters.
That rage never disappeared, and it may well have motivated me to agree to play a major role in the third, and this time successful effort to unionize the UVM faculty four years ago. But more important were Will's courage and endurance. I enjoy studying politics, not being a participant. And by the 1990s my rage over continuing injustices here was fast turning to cynicism. But if Will could continue the struggles year after year, despite defeat after defeat, who was I to refuse to play my part?
When we finally won the union fight in 2001, I told the happy celebrants that we all owed a tremendous debt of gratitude to those who had done so much in the previous union drives, most notably Will. I say it again. You kept the torch burning, Will, and you taught us what perseverance and commitment were all about. We in United Academics owe you an enormous debt of gratitude. So do I personally.
February 1, 2005
Will: I've just learned about your cancer treatment while reading your web page. My most immediate feeling is hope: optimism, a wish for your complete and speedy recovery: and for the best possible therapy and treatment during the interim. Come back soon. We need your tenacious example and courage and wisdom on behalf of justice and peace. With a strong optimistic hug.
Arnold Fertig (Rabbi)
Newton Centre, MA
January 31, 2005
What a thrill it was for me to reconnect with you when my wife, Gail, and I were traveling through Burlington on our way to Montréal for our anniversary this past October.
In our few hours together we reminisced about my time as your student in the late '60's, early 70's, in the era when Playboy dubbed UVM the "hotbed of tranquility."
As a philosophy major, you taught me how to think critically. You mentored me in a one-on-one readings and research project on the topic of Utopian societies. And, in so doing, you and set before me the lifelong challenge to create that ever more perfect society.
I served as the student representative on the committee chaired by George Albee which reviewed the Philosophy department's "radicalism". From that vantage point I learned as much or more from you and your colleagues as I did in the classroom or Philosophy department lounge (aka sofa).
You have always served as a role model, combining sharp intellect, strong moral conviction, and gentle spirit. You have blessed my life with your presence, and I join all your friends and admirers in wishing you strength and healing.
Atlanta, GA (UVM class 2003)
January 31, 2005
I only had one class with Will. I was an Engineering major and took a Philosophy class as an elective. That was the only class I ever had where we would spend sunny days out on the grass in front of the building instead of stuck inside of it. Because of this, and because of the energetic way that he led his classes, and the insight he brought to a subject that can be hard to grasp sometimes, the mention of Will's name or the sight of his face brings a ray of sunshine into my mind and my heart. I've always been a radical, and I always will be, so he didn't alter my overall outlook substantially, but at the time, being only in my late teens, it meant a lot to me to meet someone in a position of "authority" (hehe) who was able to balance activism with professional success, and that helped to me to realize that I didn't have to compromise my values to get where I wanted to be, and for that I am very thankful.
Good luck Will, I'll be thinking of you! 😉
January 29, 2005
I'm another one of the faces you might vaguely recognize, names you wouldn't know, but I hope you would recognize as a kindred spirit. I thank you for having the will to speak truth to power and for being so gracious an example to those of us who might have been tempted to give up - if it weren't for folks like you. Thanks for all you've done. All best wishes - and lots of those "good vibes".
Carol Walker, WILPF
January 27, 2005
Will and I came to UVM at the same time, in the fall of 1969, so I have lots of memories to draw on. I'll mention only a few.
Rather than preface half my sentences with "if I remember correctly," "as I recall," or similar phrases, I'll start with a general disclaimer. As we tell our intro psych students, memory is not like a videotape of the past; it is far more like a story constructed to make sense of a set of incomplete, disordered, cryptic, and partly illegible notes. So omissions, additions, and incorrect sequences are the norm rather than the exception, and I'd be surprised if Will's recollections of the same events were not very different than mine.
And let me note that in events that I was involved in with or through Will, almost invariably he was better informed, more passionately engaged, more erudite, and endlessly more articulate – Will speaks not in sentences like most of us; Will speaks in paragraphs.
* Michael Parenti: A group of us established a "Thomas Jefferson Chair," to be funded by our pledging a percentage of our salaries, to keep Parenti at UVM while he fought the non-reappointment decision in the courts. With the question of how students could get credit for courses taught by a professor without an appointment at UVM unresolved, Parenti (probably wisely) went elsewhere.
* Mosquitoes: Will once informed me, in a tone of authority, while we ate a cheese fondue at his apartment on Pearl Street, that I would be less attractive to mosquitoes if I stopped eating dead animals. I was dubious at the time and still am, though I have to admit to failing to investigate the advice empirically.
* The "Philosophy Four." With Will as our eminence grise, in 1973 a committee of the unofficial union ("The Union of College Faculty") in exactly a week (an all-time UVM record, I'm sure) investigated the cases and produced a report condemning the procedures used to justify non-reappointment of four radical philosophers. I was amazed to find the report archived – typos, illiterate sentences, and all – on Will's web site.
* Sit-in on Divestment: Will and Gil McCann, as well as a fair number of students, were arrested in Waterman when we gathered there in the mid-80s to protest UVM's continuing investment in companies doing business in South Africa. My friend and colleague George Albee and I were left untouched -- indeed, the cops literally pushed us aside to get at Will and Gil. I attributed this to the fact that George and I were -- deliberately, and unusually for us -- wearing suits and ties, Will and Gil jeans and t-shirts. The cultural conditioning of the cops did the rest. Still haven't been able to persuade Will to wear a tie, though!
* Will as a teacher: This is something I wrote in connection with a grievance Will filed about seven or eight years ago: "I am in no position to judge at first hand the adequacy of your teaching. My personal contacts with you over the years tell me that you are a highly articulate and exceptionally well-read colleague, passionately interested in matters of the mind, in social justice, and in teaching people to use their brains to analyze and understand ideas and society. I can think of only a handful of people I have met in my entire academic career who could match your degree of involvement with intellectual matters and social justice, and none who exceed it. I suppose it is still possible that despite all this you are a lousy teacher; my forty years in academia as a student and teacher tell me this is highly unlikely."
* United Academics: About five years ago, when the latest unionization campaign was under way, I was not convinced the timing was right. Will and Mark Stoler took me out for a beer and changed my mind. Their argument boiled down to one question: What had changed since the three of us first fought to unionize faculty a quarter of a century earlier? Thanks to both of them!
And thanks to Will for being in 2005 the same committed, courageous, and articulate fighter for social justice that he has been ever since I've known him, and before. You have always spoken truth to power, Will. You deserve universal thanks for that, and long may you continue to do it.
January 26, 2005
As one of your students, I had the pleasure to learn with you about a great many subjects that were denied legitmacy elsewhere at UVM. Beyond that, though, your personality revealed itself through the manner and content of your teachings, and showed you to be a good-hearted man who was motivated by compassion, respect, and a committment to fairness. Please stay strong and beat this thing.
George W. Albee
Longboat Key, Florida
January 26, 2005
I am writing to add my good wishes and words of support. My colleague and friend Lew Lipsitt alerted me to this website. At 83+ I am a newcomer to email, but I want you to know that I admire your political stands against war and social injustice.
Ovid, New York
January 26, 2005
Will, I first met you in the late 1970s as a student in one of Jerry Anderson's classes at Johnson State College. The class visited your homestead in Westford one day, and I was impressed by how you integrated the beautiful house and its lovely setting with a "the personal is political" context. On another occasion the class listened to a tape of one of your talks for a book discussion group; once again, you drew out the political analysis in a manner that stimulated my own intellectual growth. At yet another event, I was enthralled by how you absolutely demolished one speaker who argued in favor of American intervention overseas.
I arrived at college with a self-constructed but inarticulate critical Left perspective but your eloquent political analysis strengthened my own ideas and provided a model for a poor working-class kid. You are one of the people who deeply influenced my life goals: I too wanted to be a homesteader in the hills of Vermont while pursuing a life of the mind as an academic. Partly because of your influence, I continued beyond the Bachelor's degree to acquire my Master's and Doctoral degrees. Along with the members of the "Philosophy Four," you influenced my choice of dissertation topics. I will never forget the kind hospitality you offered at your home as I interviewed you for the dissertation on antiwar/New Left professors during the Vietnam War era.
Will, you are one of the people I wish I could have known better, worked with regularly, and seen more often. Unfortunately, Vermont never took me in. Economic survival took me away to upstate New York, where at least I have a place to live that does not consume a major portion of my meager income. My greatest wish at this moment is that you get well and return to the trenches where we desperately need your valuable contributions.
January 24, 2005
Dearest Brother Will;
Just to let you know how much your advice and counsel has helped me over the years. I know whenever I call on you I will find some ready positive and supportive response. When we first talked, you may remember, I was asking for your feedback about walking in the Barre Veteran's Day Parade as a Viet Nam Vet widow. You were so kind and understanding, it gave me the courage I needed to "come out" as an anti-war war widow.
My husband's caskette flag has been to many demonstrations and presentations with me. When it became woefully unkempt after so much use, I was honored to have Louie Pulver and Jim Bergenron, two Army Veterans refold it for me. Everytime I hold the flag in my arms I think of you and all the other Viet Nam veterans who suffer as a result of surviving the war and those who didn't.
I am so happy to know you and love you dearly for who you are and what you do.
With great love and affection,
So. Burlington, Vermont
January 24, 2005
Not a testimonial, although I could do that too.
I thought you might be interested in a brief speech I gave last fall on John Dewey's birthday. It focuses on his involvement in the labor movement.
John Dewey, Union Activist
As President of United Academics, the faculty union of the University of Vermont, and a professor of education, I am delighted to be here today to celebrate his life and work.
For most of us, when we think of John Dewey, we think of the school, the classroom, and the learning experience of the child. For him, schools were instruments for the creation and perpetuation of democracy. However, his passion for social justice and abiding commitment to democratic principles extended far beyond the public schools.
He believed that voluntary organizations, particularly labor unions, had an important role to play in advancing democracy and achieving social justice goals. For the first half of the 20th century, John Dewey played a significant role in a variety of organizations that have become familiar voices in the struggle for social, economic, and political rights in the United States.
The list is impressive. In 1909, he joined W.E.B. DuBois, Ida B. Wells, and others as a founding member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). He recognized that collective action was essential to achieve racial justice goals.
Dewey, a professor at Columbia University, and Arthur J. Lovejoy, a philosophy professor at Johns Hopkins University, were leaders in the creation of the American Association of University Professors. Seeing faculty as a heart of the university, they issued a "call" to academics in 1913 to create an organization that would "facilitate a more effective cooperation among the members of the profession in the discharge of their special responsibilities as custodians of the interests of higher education and research in America" and make collective action possible in maintaining and advancing "the standards and ideals of the profession"(Martin 246). Central among these was the principle of academic freedom. This still remains at the heart of the academic process; collective bargaining agreements at the University of Vermont and many other institutions incorporate the AAUP's 1940 statement on academic freedom.
In 1916, Dewey joined with Roger Baldwin, Helen Keller, Jane Addams, Norman Thomas, Felix Frankfurter, and other liberal intellectuals, who created American Union Against Militarism (AUAM) to work against the growing "war spirit" in this country. In particular, they protested the suppression of those speaking out against the Great War and possible American involvement in it.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) grew out of the AUAM. Dewey was there again, supporting the ACLU's efforts to fight court injunctions to block laborers' efforts to strike and organize. He had been moved decades earlier by the brutal suppression of the Pullman Strike in 1893 and Eugene Debs' championing of their cause. (Martin 249).
Finally, John Dewey recognized that public school teachers needed the same sorts of protection and support as other workers in this country. He called on teachers to ally themselves with organized labor. In 1916, he joined in the founding of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and supported its affiliation with the American Federation of Labor and the growing national labor movement. Throughout his life, he held Membership Card No 1 in the AFT.
John Dewey declared over and over that educators needed to be free from coercive, censoring forces if they and their students were to thrive and grow. He declared in a 1927 speech at an AFT gathering:
"There is need for a working, aggressive organization that represents all of the interests that teachers have in common, and which, in representing them, represents also the protection of the children and the youth in the schools against all of the outside interests, economic and political and others, that would exploit the schools for their own ends, and in doing so reduce the teaching body to a condition of intellectual vassalage" (Dewey, 1).
It is a message we dare not ignore today.
Dewey, J. (1927). Why I Am A Member of the Teachers Union, The American Teacher (January 1928). Excerpt retrieved on October 15, 2004, fromhttp:www.nmfee.org/jdewey.html.
Martin, J. (2002) The Education of John Dewey, New York: Columbia University Press.
Rippa, S. A. (1988). Education in a Free Society: An American History. New York: Longman Inc.
January 23, 2005
The Philosopher's Dance
The Will I know is a philosopher. He and I taught philosophy together at UVM in the early 70's. You probably know of the ancient Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times.” Well, interesting times they were! We were cursed with consciousness about the nature of our world, and we were blessed with a community of fellow optimists who believed we could change it. Indeed, it was a community we created together as we were all recently out of graduate school or early on in our academic teaching adventures. And to know Will is to know that he was a key part of that quest to become the change we sought. Ideas make a difference to philosophers, and thinking about thinking is our trade. But Will not only thought about philosophical ideas, he embodied the energy to combine theory and practice. Like Marx he knew that it was one thing to understand the world, but the point was to change it, and help change it Will did.
Of course like all change, it is rarely what we expect it to be. In 1970 UVM was germinating new ideas and over a dozen of us had emerged from campuses that encompassed new ways of thinking about our lives, our teaching and our students. Will, Jim and I had crossed paths at the U. of Illinois where I passed through during a turbulent semester in my life—the semester JFK was killed. Each of us took Max Fisch's Plato class at similar times (although I did not know them then), but Will was the one who would remember that while Plato was an aristocrat, it was Socrates who was the son of a stone cutter. Will was an electrician by trade from Chicago, and he combined class-consciousness with the wisdom of a philosopher who knew theory without practice was hollow. Will led us into the streets, out of our classrooms, into the hallways of protest, in defiance of entrenched prejudice and ignorance, and we all demanded a fairer world. We changed our university and we were changed by it. It was a time when teachers became students, and students became teachers and we all paused to ponder its meaning. And Will's giant mind was always at work helping us see our world in new ways. By the time our community was torn asunder by the dangers that face those who dare question authority, we had left a mark that added to the chorus of voices from the 60's and 70's, and Will remained vigilant and recorded what happened, and carried that history on to new generations that followed ours. As a Socratic gadfly, he has not let the University forget its past injustices. Through his tireless chronology of UVM's purges and offences against academic freedom, he has tied the past to the present, and as a result he has felt the sting to his own comfort and career.
It was Will who first taught me that when the Left forms a firing squad, it stands in a circle. I guess it was prophetic of what we all had to go through as we learned how to struggle with academia to transcend existing dogma. Trying times even challenge friendships and push us onto different paths. They remind us to think about friendship and realize that even when friends take separate paths, their lives keep intersecting in ways that allow fellow travelers to meet again and again. We who live in this small town called Vermont know that our friends are often just around the corner. I have not seen Will often in the past quarter century, but I know his indomitable spirit every time I meet it.
Will has always helped me define what a philosopher is. Socrates taught us that the unexamined life is not worth living, but we were learning that the unlived life is not worth examining and so we did both with a passion that sustained us even when injustice reigned. Will taught me to tear down the walls around the ivory tower of academia and know that change comes when ideas seek action. We were philosophers learning how to become carpenters and electricians and gardeners. And we were looking for ways to make carpenters, electricians, and gardeners into philosophers.
Will is a man for all seasons. He is a teacher, a builder, a gardener, a homesteader and a thinker. He lives with compassion, and he is loved by those who have learned from his passion and his courage. He not only speaks truth to power, but he helps others understand why values matter and humans must act with thoughtfulness. He knows ideas are real and that they can help us act responsibly toward others. And we philosophers never seem to stop pondering about everything including the meaning of life itself.
In the early 70's Will joined several of us who went to a philosophy convention in N.Y. that was held at the grand old Waldorf Astoria. At the evening reception, distinguished philosophers dressed in tweed and arm patches mingled and honed their careers below the sparkling chandeliers. Then a circle of buckskinned, angelic, tambourine playing, mellow, dancing flower children began to emerge in the center of the splendid ballroom. A longhaired man playing enchanting melodies on the flute began to dance around the parameter of the circle as the cocktail philosophers feigned indifference and toasted their philosophical erudition. This minstrel was Freddie Z., a well-published Aristotle scholar who had distinguished himself through his analytic interpretations of Aristotle's philosophy of lying. In this room of profound thinkers, Freddie would occasionally dance up to the edge, catch the eye of a disdainful academic, and whisper, “Live Life.” A year or so later I heard that Freddie had died suddenly at an untimely young age, and I flashed back to the image of a man who not only knew how to live life but who had taught me to think in a new way through his actions. I knew Freddie had lived and I was comforted.
Whenever I hear of a friend who is struggling with illness, I often feel my own sense of mortality. Then I flash to our group discussions with Will and others about Heidegger's philosophy of death, and I remember his notion that it is with such revelation we come to realize how every moment must be savored and lived as deliberately as if it is the last. And I remember Freddy living and dancing. And I think of Will who is still teaching us to think, and act, and speak truth through living deliberately. Even when he speaks in a soft voice his ideas are strong and can be heard over the drumbeats and blowback from the current war that brings a plague down on humanity. I then think of Tom Joad in Grapes of Wrath talking to Ma who is worried about his fate. Then he says to her,
“Well, maybe like Casey says, a fella ain't got a soul of his own, but on'y a piece of a big one—and' then…. Then it don' matter. Then I'll be all aroun' in the dark. I'll be ever'where—everywhere you look. Wherever they's a fight so hungry people can eat, I'll be there. Wherever they's a cop beatin' up a guy, I'll be there. …why, I'll be in the way guys yell when they're mad an'—I'll be in the way kids laugh when they're hungry and know supper's ready. An when our folks eat the stuff they raise an' live in the houses they build—why I'll be there.”
Life is so fickle that we never know who will be here to watch the snow melt into spring, to harvest the summer garden, or stop the latest inhumanity. I guess we go on comforted by the knowledge that we live in each other's actions and in the will to live deliberately. Take care, friend Will, I will see you around the next corner! In the meantime, live life!
new york but VT in my heart
January 23, 2005
Ever the fighter, you will wrastle this too, to victory. I've been thinking a lot of you, and what an ispiration you are to many. I still remember your profoundly snarky comment during the anti-apartheid movement at UVM, when you noted that so faculty members were so deep in the woodwork that they had been painted over several time.
No one has ever said that of you--a person of principle and a comrade who has never shrunk from a struggle.
You are a great ally and a terrifying opponent: steadfast in both capacities. And a valued friend.
All the best.
Love and strength,
January 23, 2005
I would like to thank you for being a wonderful professor, a friend and simply the honor of knowing you. You always put students ahead- wether it is allowing everyone to take your classes no matter how full, taking time after class to talk to a student or lending extra reading material.
I feel that I learnt more than just the academic aspects of Marxism and the Foundations of Education last year. You taught me to approach academia in an entirely different way. I not only respected your way of teaching but the way you taught by example. The morals and values that you teach are not from some lofty pedastal but demonstrated everyday in your actions- using everyone's first name, caring for your sheep, drinking coffee out of your reusable mug or showing up at every protest.
I believe that you showed my classmates and I another way of life. I feel your presence helped more firmly establish my morals. You live by the things you teach and for this, I have a great appreciation and respect.
Your classes gave a wealth of knowledge- through handouts, reading, magazines and movies. I have shared these facts with friends and family, recommended your website and had a house viewing of "The History Book" cartoons. For those of you at UVM- I highly recommend taking these out of the library as they are a quite unique approach to capitalism.
I respect you greatly and am eternally grateful for all that you have introduced me to. I feel that you do not judge others but simply try to stand as a guide to those who are lost and attempting to deal with the problems of this confusing and troubling world.
Thank you for making me a stronger fighter- one stronger and more prepared. And thank you for being a great teacher, a friend and always being incredibly understanding of the overwhelming confusion of students. I wish you blue skies, sunshine and above all-good health. Take good care of yourself.
love, light and energy,
East Middlebury, Vermont
January 23, 2005
Will has, to me, been nothing less than an inspiration, demonstrating the power of uncompromising principle, and tireless persistance. He reminds me of my favorite Bible phrase when I was young, that with faith the size of a mustard seed, one can move mountains.
Essex Junction, Vermont
January 22, 2005
What a pleasure, Will, to view the photos on this site and to feel how I do every time I'm in your presence! I will never stop learning from experiencing the way you live! You have challanged and encouraged since beyond the time I first met you in 1980 as a twenty-year old student in a UVM philosophy class and you will continue to do so. I have no doubt that because you have shown all in our communites the ultimate triumph of those who persist and perserver that you have truly earned your name, Will.
I watch and listen to the inaugeration and ask myself whether the state of our nation can get any worse. I think, "Probably so but not likely for too long." The time is arriving when even our corporate media is asking the question whether this pre-millenialist lunatic they allowed to take the helm is too crazy even for them. Like the U.S. used religious reactionaries to battle the Soviets, and eventually suffered at the zealots hands, the U.S. conservative elite is beginning to understand it has helped create a monster that could harm it. The elite won't let right-wing theocrats in Washington get away with this for too much longer, in great part, because of their knowledge of the breadth of opposition, domestically and internationally, to Bush's policies.
"Yes, true." I can hear you now telling me that all we're getting now is more of the same. I guess, then, what we're handing back is more of the same resistance that you have inspired and enabled for decades. I see your footprints everywhere in this community. Those footprints are steps that I, and we, ought to be proud to follow. I know your eager steps have made impressions loud enough to make established interests uncomfortable: Take heart in knowing the FBI asked me years ago whether your home was a place where activists gather. Take heart, too, in knowing I had nothing to tell them.
I can't imagine, Will, that the places you are going will be any different than the places you have been. Your leadership in the quests for meaningful lives in our communities though truth, and ultimately justice, will continue to inspire. The love you've shared will keep coming back at you. I'd love to hear from you soon. E-mail me!
Higher Education and Student Affairs Program, UVM
January 21, 2005
Will, You don't know me. I'm a professor of higher education administration here at UVM. I have long admired the role that you have played at UVM and in higher education, in general. Higher education institutions need more people like the Will Millers to keep administrators honest, challenge complacent faculty members, make students think differently, and just generally rabble rouse. Thanks for your years of hard work! Kathy Manning Associate Professor
January 21, 2005
Do you remember when we first met? It was when Ralph Underhill was denied tenure in my department and we tried to figure out what we could do about it. Not much in that case, but of the many struggles at UVM here are the ones that come immediately to mind. First, I remember your role in the South Africa divestment campaign, your support and advice to students and your wisdom in letting them lead. The many union drives that led to an eventual victory. Your lobbying in Montpelier to get the university declared a public instrumentality for the purposes of labor relations that successfully protected us from the Yeshiva decision; without that, unionization would have been impossible. Your work with SPARC and as a result, the wonderful speakers that they brought to campus and the wonderful political work that they did. Your arrest in Waterman; felony, wasn't it? Took several weeks for that to disappear. Was that when they cuffed you? And your work getting salary information released to the public; when they went from library reserve to your web site, access grew exponentially. But tell me, is it true that your salary web page gets more hits than any other page on the UVM server?
Indeed, your hard work and numerous contributions to social justice and equity on campus stand out in my mind and on behalf of all of us, I sincerely thank you for it all. What also stands out for me are the many conversations that we have had in which you managed to change my mind on an issue; how, much more often than not, your analysis made sense and your insight revealing. I thank you for all those times when you offered clarity.
Finally, I remind you of all those Sunday morning Green Mountain Fund for Popular Struggle meetings with bagels, coffee, and grant proposals to consider. What a pleasure it was to be able to fund those projects and what a pleasure it was to get that overview of the fabulous work being done in our communities. Another instance when your insight was invaluable!
Will, get well soon and remember that I love you very much.
January 20, 2005
This country's problems are more complex and pervasive than ever before. The best way for change to occur is by individuals voicing their opinions through grassroot organizations. At times we feel that we are just a "drop in the bucket" but we have learned from you, Will, that your drop in the bucket has filled buckets to the brim many times over. Your actions have had a rippling effect. You've made us think, question and articulate our ideas and opinions. We are stronger because of your strength and courage to fight the fight whatever it may be. You have touched many lives, both young and old. We appreciate your passion for justice, desire for change and patience with us who are still learning from you. Thanks for being our voice when we couldn't find our own.
January 20, 2005
What better day than Inauguration Day to salute Will. First of all, he'd be there if he could. Second, if he's watching it on TV this afternoon, he's probably shaking his head at the sight of protesters pushing against a steel barrier and swat teams at Freedom Plaza, trying to get near a Darth-Vaderish motorcade that even conservative George Will called "unseemly -- it looks like a military operation, or a setting in a Banana Republic." Another ABC commentator pointed out that someone from the American Wrestling Team (remember the team financed by John DuPont until he flipped out and killed one of the wrestlers?) was giving the assembled crowd a megaphoned pep talk before the motorcade approached – a truly Orwellian touch, the commentator said, and in fact one of many today.
And the President rides blissfully on, barely visible behind dark-tinted windows, no doubt thinking the world is inspired by his words. Maybe it's a good sign that even the mainstream media feels compelled to comment. When they say nothing is when we really have to worry.
Will would have put this all more eloquently, backed up with statistics about the two Bushes, their two wars, what has changed during the interim, some pertinent historical background, and of course, what we need to do about it. Whether we're sharing a teach-in on the Middle East, walking a picket-line, or just comparing notes, Will's intelligence and compassion have always amazed me, and I often come away thinking: Now there's a true philosopher for our times! The other day I watched one of Jerry's and my old "Where Do You Stand?" cable TV shows featuring Will on the first Iraq War , with accompanying documentary footage about the buildup to the war and the dreadful loss of Iraqi lives in its aftermath. One of our best shows --fresh, insightful, empowering. That's Will for you: devoted teacher and activist rolled into one.
And my guess is, he's thanking George Bush for his second inaugural address proclaiming America as a champion of freedom against tyranny. "You can't have freedom at home without freedom abroad," Bush said. I guess its up to us to turn it around. With Will urging us on, we will show the President how seriously we take our freedom, beginning right at home.
Anne Molleur Hanson
January 19, 2005
I find this web site so inspiring--I visit it often and figure it's now time for me to say hi and "Warm Heart" to Will and his wonderful friends and family and fellow travelers and tell you all about a side of Will that hasn't really come out much in all of these testimonials. I met Will in April 2002 when many Vermonters all-night-bused to DC for the first massive protest against the Bush Admin policies post 9/11, specifically the US war in Afghanistan. Our bus was full but I had noticed Will early on, as well as Paul Hood, both of whom were representing Green Mountain Vets for Peace. At any peace rally I've attended I'm always most inspired by the Vets for Peace folks--and I was so glad to have a small contingent on our bus (and so amazed that in my mid 30s I could find the seats and ride so long and often uncomfortable--those with white hair on the bus really impressed me! They never complained) But you know what? Even though Will and a bunch of us spent the day together marching with our Hardwick Area Peace and Justice Banner--I did not get to know Will. That whole day--including the bus ride, he was a really quiet guy! It's true!!I had no idea here was this wonderful professor, this veteran peace and justice activist, this person with incredible recall for facts and such an amazing grasp of complicated matters and historical perspective on so much stuff. In fact, he was so quiet that whole trip, I thought probably this man had come out of the woods from the hinterlands of Vermont somewhere, wearing his old fatigues shirt to say NO in his own laconic way! And of course, that latter impression was certainly part of what he was doing on that trip. I think it also says a lot about Will's humility. But if I'd known what an incredible speaker he is, and how much I could have learned in those multiple hours we shared the same environs, I would have asked him for a short course on Marxism or US military history (the untold story) or even just about what in his life had brought him to DC that weekend!
Well, the good news is that I did see the other amazing side of Will several months later, at a rally on the Statehouse Lawn-- He also has trekked twice in the past year and a half to Hardwick to give some incredible talks on matters relating to U.S. military presence in Afghanistan and Iraq, and on Depleted Uranium. Both times he declined any offer of payment for gas money or his time, (though I think once we insisted he take some cookies for the car ride!) but he has done much to inform a few of us in the Hardwick area about essential matters. I honor him, and Ann-whom I hope to meet someday, and am so grateful to them for all of their good work on this earth! Thank you, friends. You are in so so many of our hearts!
Boston Public Library, Massachusetts
January 18, 2005
I join the ranks of the many students whom over the years you have inspired and influenced greatly. When I first got to UVM six years ago I was somewhat lost, knowing that world was already turning upside down, but not knowing completely how to focus my energies to do anything about it or to even understand. It seems now looking back that it didn't take long at all for me to get sucked into the wonderful world of activism, and I largely have you to thank for that. I suppose it must have been an early SPARC meeting where I first met you and was instantly impressed and overwhelmed that I had found someone with not all of the answers, but with a heck of a lot of them, and real good idea on where to find the rest. Since then I have had countless opportunies to appreciate you as an incredible source of knowledge, inspiration and compassion.
Will you are one of the most dedicated people I have ever met. Wether showing up for a sparc meeting in the worst storm of the season when only two students managed to get there, or agreeing last minute to give an exhaustive history of twentieth century of american imperialism, or coming all the way to campus on a weekend to tell the history of che for an hour on my radio show in honor of his birthday, or staying an extra 45 minutes after a late meeting to discuss current events in cuba, you always are willing to pull through and share the vast wealth of knowledge you somehow are able to retain. I feel completely honored to have met you and gotten to know you and share some of that knowledge of yours over the years. You are a tireless warrior in the unending battle against the opressors of this world, and I'm confident in saying that your impact has bettered the lives of many more people than you could ever know.
The impact that you have had on my life is inmeasurable. Were it not for the endless information I gleaned from lectures, talks, class, and personal conversations, I probably wouldn't be writing you from the library in boston, waiting for my flight off to central america in yet another attempt to better the lives of those less fortunate. I thank you for expanding my view of the world and for being such a wonderful teacher, friend, and comrade to all of the uncountable lives that you have touched.
Get well Will, stay strong, and I look forward to sharing more stories in the near future!
January 17, 2005
I'm sorry to hear about your illness; I have no doubt that you are fighting it with all your strength and determination, just like you have done with everything else.
I lived in Burlington from 1978 to 1981, and did anti-draft work (after Jimmy Carter re-instated the draft), and that morphed into Central America solidarity work after the Sandinistas won, and the FMLN looked like it might. I met you in the course of that work, spent time working with you politically, and with you and Ann personally. You had a reputation as a radical. You turned out, more importantly, to be a serious activist and organizer, not just talking the line, but going to the meetings, writing the leaflets and helping to hand them out, recruiting students and others. And beyond that, you turned out to be warm and engaging, and a great person to spend time with. I still think of you, the meetings I attended with you, and the visits to Westford.
January 17, 2005
Greetings Will and Ann,
My thoughts have been turning to you over the past weeks as I have been updated on Will's health. It has been touching and inspiring to spend some time on this site reading messages and well wishes from friends and comrades from around the country to you in these hard times. I am honored to be able add my own.
Despite being at many of the same meetings, demonstrations, and events since I first met you in the spring of 2000, just after the mobilizations against the IMF and World Bank in Washington, DC, I regret to say that I would like to know both of you better than I do.
Will, my earliest memory of you was at a meeting of the Vermont Action Network on the UVM campus in the spring of 2000. I had just started working for the Native Forest Network at the time, and appreciated your friendly welcome to the global justice movement in Burlington. I remember being pleasantly surprised that one of my elders, and a UVM faculty member, was so obviously excited and inspired to work with young, bright-eyed radicals.
I want to thank you, and Ann, not only for your direct support and involvement in many of the projects I worked on with NFN, and later Action for Social and Ecological Justice, but for your work with the Green Mountain Fund for Popular Struggle. In my mere 5 or so years of political activism and organizing, I have known of, and had the pleasure of working with, only a few foundations supporting, and promoting radical political work, and the Green Mt. Fund was one of them.
The last time I worked closely with you was, I believe, the spring of 2003, as part of the General Dynamics Working Group. I had the pleasure of attending a meeting of the group at your lovely home in Westford, and getting to know you a little better there. I'm happy to hear that the group is still going, focusing on education and organizing around depleted uranium use in military weaponry -- more testimony to your commitment to environmental and social justice for soldiers, civilians, and veterans alike. This spring 2003 meeting was one of the first memories of both of you that came to mind when I sat down to write this testimony -- one of happier times for you. Thank you for your kind hospitality that day.
These days I am working as a union organizer with the American Federation of Teachers, which represents the UVM faculty, on a drive to organize the staff at UVM. One of the reasons that I am able to do this work is because of the years of struggle that Will was involved in fighting for the rights of faculty to organize.
Will and Ann, I send you this tribute as a small token of thanks for your years of commitment to the struggle in Vermont and beyond, and look forward to more "trouble making" with you in the future.
Yours in Solidarity,
January 16, 2005
thanks, will, for so much that you have done for me and so many others. thanks for inspiring me to major in philosophy, and for being my advisor. thanks for also being the unofficial advisor for my unofficial third major -- activism. thanks for agreeing to sponsor the Gadfly, and SPARC in 1984. you made us feel like those were great ideas, that UVM needed us to participate, and that we would make a difference. you were right. thanks for never saying 'no' when we asked you to stand up and speak out for those of us whose concerns bordered on anger, an anger that prevented many of us from being able to articulate our rage. your eloquence made our rage seem reasonable, and made us proud of what we were doing. thanks for inviting your classes to visit with you at your home. that made us feel like adults, your peers, respected.
will, your very name has been a lesson in intention and persistence for me. rather than saying "i might," or "we should," you taught us to say "we will."
we will. we did. we do.