No One To Weep
By Howard Fast
I DIED today and there is no one to remember, to bear my pall, to weep over me, to press down the earth on my grave.
I speak for myself and for my comrades, because who else will speak? It is a bitter thing to be anonymous, to have said of you only this:
"The 1,500 ton Greek ship, Himara, went down after striking a mine off the barren island of Kavalianio. Forty Greek guerrillas, who were chained in the hold, perished."
I was one of the forty who perished, a cold death, a hopeless, angry death for a man with warm blood and the love of life, a man who could remember in that moment the women he had loved, the children he had fathered, the fresh white bread he had eaten and the strong wine he had tasted.
I have no name; I have no face; I will have no name until that time in the long future when they make a name for me and for my comrades; but in order that they may have some of the facts, know what we were and why we did what we did, I will put down here my own story, directly, and in as few words as possible.
It is such a common, simple story that it will serve for my comrades as well; but is it not true that the simplest motives are those most easily forgotten?
I was born thirty years ago in the hills of Macedon, where the sky is bluer than anywhere else in the world, where the wind blows warmer. I had four brothers and three sisters, for big families were the way in that land. My father was a carpenter, and when I was old enough to handle a plane and a hammer, I learned his trade.
What else is there to say? I roamed in the hills. When I had a free day, I lay in the grass and talked to the shepherds, and heard the old tales of the various and many times when our people fought for their freedom; for ours is an old land and our fight an old fight.
I fell in love with many girls, because the blood ran strong in my veins, but the one I married was like a poppy from our hillsides, her eyes as dark as the seeds and her lips as red as the petals.
We had two children, a boy and a girl, before Mussolini ordered his fascists into our country and I went to fight them.
There were tears but no doubts when I went to fight the fascists; this was not a new thing for a Greek to do. For months we fought them, and, with all their power the fascists could not advance a foot into our land. So they called their allies, the death's-head barbarians of the North, and with their dive bombers they roared down into our beautiful land.
They were too much for us, and they had allies among our own people; when they had occupied all of our tiny country, they announced that they had conquered us.
But we were not conquered as long as brave men lived. I went home, and we formed a little band of men who pledged themselves to fight for freedom until the last fascist was dead or driven out of our land.
We said goodby to our wives and children, and we went into the hills and continued the fight. And since they could not defeat us, or frighten us, the fascists murdered our wives and children and laid waste our homes.
Yet we fought on. We had nothing left but freedom now, no more to lose. The tears had been shed and we were beyond tears. And finally, the day of our liberation came--or at least what we thought of as the day of our liberation. The Germans fell back beneath the might of the United Nations, and we shouldered our arms and marched down to the city of Athens.
And then we discovered that the fascists were not dead. In the streets of Athens, I saw women and children mowed down by British guns. I saw workers lined up and shot. I saw British bayonets pressing our fifth columnists back into power. So with my comrades I went back to the hills to continue the fight.
But it was not so easy now. Where the fascists and Nazis had failed, traitors from our own people succeeded. We were led into a trap. We were chained. We were put into a concentration camp guarded by British troops, and we were systematically starved and beaten. And then, still in our chains, we were marched on board the Himara to be sent into exile.
Remember me. I lie at the bottom of the sea, where my chains have borne me. I have no name, no face, no family--no one to call for me or shed a tear.
But if you remember for long enough, then some day they will give a name to me and my comrades and honor us, not with tears, but with the brave new world we dreamed of.