Gulamhusein A. Abba
Walter Hrozenchik, an 80 years old multifaceted man (see his obituary at http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/newstimes/obituary.aspx?n=walter-hrozenchik&pid=155716134) passed away on the night of Jan 29 at Laurel Ridge Health Care Center .
He was a war veteran: He served in the US Navy during the Korean Conflict aboard the U.S.S. Dixie. During his enlistment, he visited Hiroshima, Japan. Witnessing the results of the nuclear explosion there was transformative for him. He became an avid anti-war peace activist.
He was best known in Danbury for his anti-war activism and as the producer of Earth Matters, a weekly TV program.
He was a fixture in front of the Danbury Library for years, standing there evening after evening, sunshine, rain or snow, protesting the Gulf war and other wars and wars in general.
He used to organize vigils in remembrance of the victims of Hiroshima atomic bombing by USA. And, long years back, when hardly anyone talked about it, he campaigned against the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant at Buchanan, NY, within a 25 mile radius of which Danbury falls, pointing out the dangers it posed to millions of people.
To get the full measure of the man, it should be noted that he protested:
against the sanctions on Iraq in the 90s (on the ground that they were killing innocent children without having any effect on Saddam and his family);
against the 1991 Operation Desert Storm following Iraq’s invasion and occupation of Kuwait (on the ground that a peaceful resolution had been offered by Iraq but was spurned by the US);
against the March 2003 invasion of Iraq by the “coalition of the willing”, led by US, in relation to alleged possession of Weapons of Mass Destruction and alleged imminent attack on the US by Saddam Hussein(on the ground that there was no evidence of stockpiling of these weapons by Iraq and no evidence of an imminent attack);
against the continued US military presence and operations in Iraq even after the official cessation of combat operations 0n May 1;
against the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan in retaliation of the Sept 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers in Manhattan (on the ground that Afghanistan had nothing to do with the said terrorist attack and, in addition, the Taliban had expressed its willingness to hand over Osama bin Laden to a mutually acceptable third country, but the US had rejected the offer)
He protested against these wars before they started and even when they were in full swing. These protests were not easy when the country was seemingly awash with American flags flying from every household and every car.
He was given the finger by drivers who drove past. Obscenities were hurled at him. He was called a traitor. One irate driver even attempted to run over him and Walter barely escaped.
Walter did not let any of this faze him. He had the courage of is convictions and he returned to his post in front of the Danbury Library with more signs and more fliers.
In addition to conveying his message through such vigils and protests, in 1987 he started producing and airing every week a 60 minute program, Earth Matters, at 7 pm every Wednesday, on the Public Access Chanel 23 of Comcast. He then put together a network, and soon Earth Matters was being aired in all of Connecticut and beyond through cable companies that operated in those areas.
In the Comcast studio he produced and aired great shows of the kind that were not seen on mainstream media.
Shows on women’s suffrage, on animal and human rights and environmentalism, on the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant, on the Iraq war, on Israel-Palestinian conflict.
One of the most controversial shows he aired was about the 1967 Israeli attack on USS Liberty, a lightly armed surveillance ship, while it was in international waters off the coast of Gaza during the Israeli Six Day War with Egypt and Jordan over Palestinian territory – an attack which resulted in 34 US sailors being killed and 174 injured, many badly.
A memorial service for Walter was held on Saturday, February 11 at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Danbury, 24 Clapboard Ridge Road, Danbury.
Present in the packed hall of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation were family members and, among others, Lynn Taborsak, Dave King and Candiann of Comcast Cable Vision, Tony Barrett (he hosted many of the Earth Matters episodes) , Robert Garavel, Michael Toto (he now heads, with Bill Collins, Chapter 18/ local Veterans for Peace Org formerly chaired by Walter), Tracy, Andrew Ziegler, David Bonan and myself, a longtime friend of Walter, his companion in peace vigils and his helper in the production of Earth Matters and its distribution.
An online Memorial Guest Book for Walter has been created for leaving messages and memories. It can be accessed at: http://www.legacy.com/guestbook/NewsTimes/guestbook.aspx?n=Walter-Hrozenchik&pid=155716134&cid=full&eid=sp_gbapprove