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Stewart MacMillan: He was good -- to his convictions -- to the last drop

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Politicians sit yourself down, There's nothing for you here. Won't you please come to Chicago for a ride; Don't ask Jack to help you ‘cause he'll turn the other ear. Won't you please come to Chicago or else join the other side.

JUNE 7: 2011: Stewart MacMillan never cared for my flippancy, as he noted occasionally in some of his 200 letters to the editor that the Times published over the last 20 years.
An example of such flippancy would be this: “Stewart MacMillan was on Omaha Beach during the Invasion of Normandy and he's been mad at God and country ever since.”
But such flippancy had a purpose. I found myself often telling our readers, many of whom thought their heads were going to explode after reading a MacMillan letter, that he had indeed earned the right to express that opinion. Once you say “Normandy,” passions always seemed to cool down.
MacMillan, 87, who died this week, never cared for my opinion and wrote so frequently. He thought I was on the payroll of the evil puppet masters who run the Republican Party, while I once suggested that he lived in the “People's Republic of Guffin Bay.” Of course, that was one flippancy he actually liked, and occasionally he used it himself.
As for war, here is a portion of a story we printed May 29, 2004 regarding the creation of a World War II memorial:
Stewart L. MacMillan, 80, Dexter, served as an Army medic through five campaigns in Europe, from the D-Day landing to the drive into Germany.
He said that although he witnessed a few acts of genuine bravery, most of his fellow soldiers did only what they needed to do to survive.
"I wish they wouldn't say their lives were given — they were taken. Nobody wanted to give their lives over there," Mr. MacMillan said. "You look out for yourself, and if you could help somebody, you did. But most people didn't want to stick their neck out. It's just human nature."
In 1943, Mr. MacMillan had his name put toward the top of the list of potential draftees. Although he said he was "gung-ho" as a 19-year-old soldier, he soon lost his taste for war.
Now a self-described pacifist, Mr. MacMillan is an outspoken critic of war. He hoped the memorial would emphasize peace and not glorify the war.
"I'm afraid that it puts a bit too much emphasis on war as a solution," Mr. MacMillan said. "They're going to show a lot of war mementos. We've had too many bad wars."

A look back at some of MacMillan's 200 letters shows a political conviction that few people can match. And a careful study also shows that while MacMillan always supported the most liberal person on the ballot, that person was generally still not liberal enough to suit his tastes.
And he remained consistently anti-religion. Just last month, within weeks of his meeting, well, MY maker, MacMillan penned this letter to the editor:
“In the far distant past most people did not have a formal education, and supernatural reasons were acceptable. Gods filled the vacuum of knowledge, and Christianity became so entrenched in the lives of its adherents that it is a sin to disclaim it even with today's well-educated Christians... So I believe that there are infinitely more atheists that are not openly so simply because it would hurt their economic or political lives. It probably will take about five more generations before religion is only the view of a tiny majority of poorly educated adherents.”
His final letter was just printed last week. And he went down swinging. Here is a portion of it:
So, please consider the following examples of the questionable logic of our lawmakers: While the poor and middle class are suffering, Big Oil Exxon was able to make a $10.7 billion profit in the first quarter this year, primarily by charging exorbitant gasoline prices. Nothing new because Exxon paid its CEO over $20 million in salary last year and paid zero corporate income taxes despite billions in profits.
The government spent millions over six years trying to convict a black ballplayer of fraud while Wall Street whites escape trials for its many admitted criminal cheating of the people. So let's consider the WDT photo of California's overcrowded prisons illustrated with three-decker bunks crowded with prisoners, all black; apparently no white crooks in that prison.
All of us have heard of "shared sacrifice" umpteen times which is affecting the rich guys, too, because they couldn't say that if it weren't true. Yeah, right — GE, Exxon, FedEx and all the other biggies have zero sacrifices to share. Here's the topper. The Texas State House, with about 95 percent Republicans, voted down relief for schools but voted to continue a special sales tax exemption on yachts costing more than $250,000. No kidding.
So, for Pete's sake, when are all you suffering people going to protest as your earned benefits, your kids' education, your retirement plans and about every other plan go in the garbage can while corporate America sails on unabated?
So, hopefully, if there's ever to be a nationwide day of protest, this 87-year-old nobody with his trusty walker will be with you on Public Square with his old “honk for peace' sign updated with a “honk for protest” revision. Raining or not, honest.

The day did not come for Stewart MacMillan. But may he now rest in peace just the same.

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