THAT CAUSE

By Paul Cantor

“There is nothing new to tell you. Just wanted to let you know everything is fine….The country around here is quite pretty. It is rolling land with lots of fields and hedgerows. The farmhouses seem to be made from some kind of sandstone and have thatched roofs. The peasants wear wooden shoes mostly. A few of them are lucky enough to have old, worn-out leather footwear. Their clothing is worn and ragged. But they seem very happy that the Boches have been driven out. Good-bye for now. Loads of Love, Dick.”

Those are the last words my grandparents received from their only son. Five days after they were written, on August 6, 1944, Lieutenant Richard Kemper was killed as he was standing by one of those hedgerows he wrote about while commanding a regiment in the Allies’ effort to push the Germans out of Normandy, France.

Subsequently, my grandparents deeded land adjacent to Mamaroneck High School in New York to the school district to be “maintained in perpetuity” as a memorial to Richard and the other 98 former Mamaroneck High students who were killed in World War II. “In presenting this Park to the people of Mamaroneck,” the commander of Long Island's Fort Slocum, Colonel Lenz, said at the dedicatory ceremony, “you have seen to it that the heroes of yesterday will not be pushed out of our recollection or the recollection of the generations of boys and girls who will be receiving the blessings of liberty in the shape of an American common school education.”

And two days after the ceremony the principal of Mamaroneck Junior High School, wrote my grandparents on behalf of junior high school students and teachers to express their and his appreciation for turning the land by the high school into "a beautiful park which…will inspire our pupils to a deeper sense of devotion to the great cause for which Richard and his fellows made the supreme sacrifice.”

The park's location by the High School, in other words, would motivate students to move beyond the once a year speeches on Memorial Day and in the words of President Abraham Lincoln, dedicate themselves to "that cause" for which our soldiers gave "the last full measure of devotion." That cause is a just and peaceful world in which human rights are everywhere respected. The Foundation's goal, therefore, is to motivate students to pick up their pens and address issues related to how to go about creating that world. - See more at: http://khref.org/about/that-cause/#sthash.L3MF1tDA.KUSPsvuB.dpuf

Kemper Human Rights Education Foundation
Phone: 203-855-9322
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184 Fillow Street
Norwalk, CT 06850