May Day

By David Glenn Cox

 

I had begun another piece about May Day and I abandoned it. It was filled with interesting quotes about May Day. May Day began as a struggle for the eight hour day. It grew and grew until it was world wide event. It was smeared as being leftist or Communist by the usual suspects but as I was researching this legacy of humanity yearning to breathe free, I found this. May Day is supposed to be about educating ourselves so I will turn you over to one far wiser than myself.

“Dear Hildita, Aleidita, Camilo, Celia and Ernesto,

If you read this letter one day, it will mean that I am no longer alive. You will hardly remember me, and the smallest among you will have entirely forgotten me.

Your father was a man who acted as he thought best and who has been absolutely faithful to his convictions. Grow up into good revolutionaries. Study hard to master technique, which gives you mastery over nature. Remember that it is the Revolution which is important and that each of us, taken in isolation, is worth nothing. Above all be sensitive, in the deepest areas of yourselves, to any injustice committed against whoever it may be anywhere in the world.

Yours always, my children. I hope to see you again.

A big strong kiss from Daddy.”- Ernesto Che Guevara

Che Guevara was a young man when he died, he left behind a wife and a family of small children. So why did he do it? Why did he abandon a career as a physician to become a revolutionary? He was sick, he had asthma and was eating a poor diet.

“Dear old folks:

Once again I feel beneath my heels the ribs of Rocinante*. Once more, I’m on the road with my shield on my arm. Almost ten years ago I wrote you another farewell letter. As I recall, I lamented not being a better soilder and a better doctor. The latter no longer interests me; I am not such a bad soilder. Nothing has changed in essence, except that I am much more consious.

My Marxism has taken root and become purified. I believe in armed struggle as the only solution for those peoples who fight to free themselves, and I am consistent with my beliefs. Many will call me an adventurer, and that I am….only one of a different sort: one who risks his skin to prove his truths. It is possible that this may be the end. I don’t seek it, but it’s within the logical relms of probailities. If it should be so, I send you a final embrace. I have loved you very much, only I have not known how to express my affection. I am extremly rigid in my actions, and I think that sometimes you did not understand me. Nevertheless, please believe me today.

Now a willpower that I have polished with an artist’s delight will sustain some shaky legs and some weary lungs. I will do it. Give a thought once in awhile to this little soilder of fortune of the twentieth century.

A kiss to Celia, to Roberto, Juán Martín and Patotín, to Beatriz, to everybody. For you, a big hug from your obstinate and prodigal son,

Ernesto” — Ernesto Che Guevara

*Rocinante was Don Quixote’s horse.

Ernesto Che Guevara went on because he thought that we were all worth the struggle. Che could have stayed home, he was doing good work at home, he had a family and he was sick. All good reasons to stay home but there was something more to Che than just his own desires.

“After graduation, due to special circumstances and perhaps also to my character, I began to travel throughout America, and I became acquainted with all of it. Except for Haiti and Santo Domingo, I have visited, to some extent, all the other Latin American countries. Because of the circumstances in which I traveled, first as a student and later as a doctor, I came into close contact with poverty, hunger and disease; with the inability to treat a child because of lack of money; with the stupefaction provoked by the continual hunger and punishment, to the point that a father can accept the loss of a son as an unimportant accident, as occurs often in the downtrodden classes of our American homeland. And I began to realize at that time that there were things that were almost as important to me as becoming famous for making a significant contribution to medical science: I wanted to help those people.” – Ernesto Che Guevara