Monday Morning Message 11.11.19 He Could Taste His Future

Posted 2019-11-12 10:26am

“We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms -- to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.”
― Dr. Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

On this Veterans Day, I’m thinking about my father-in-law, the legendary West Side Cleveland City Councilman Michael J. Zone, who was a prisoner of war in WWII. 

Less than 60 days after he and Mary Zone (who served in Cleveland City Council after Mike died) were married in September 1944, Mike enlisted in the army; and 30 days later he was caught by the Germans in the Battle of the Bulge.

Called “the greatest American battle of the war” by  Winston Churchill, the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium was Hitler’s last major offensive in World War II. The Germans achieved a total surprise attack on the morning of December 16, 1944. The battle proved to be the costliest ever fought by the U.S. Army, which suffered over 100,000 casualties. Freezing rain, thick fog, deep snow drifts and record-breaking low temperatures brutalized the American troops. The “bulge” refers to the wedge that the Germans drove into the Allied lines.

Mike Zone rarely talked about his experience as a Prisoner of War (POW), even to his own children, so his family and friends often wondered how Mike survived when stronger, healthier, and younger men did not.

One day we found the answer.

Years after Mike died of a sudden heart attack at the young age of 54, brought on because of a weakened heart from his time as a POW, Mary pulled from her closet Mike Zone’s diary that he kept as a prisoner of war. He never showed it to his children (one of whom, Matt Zone, has proudly followed in his parents’ footsteps as a Cleveland Councilman).

 It’s still legible and is the most remarkable piece of writing I’ve ever read.

He listed the names of the 9 children he and Mary would someday raise, one of whom, Peggy, I would someday marry. Most revealing were the detailed, intricate pasta recipes from a man who loved to eat pasta but had no idea how to cook.

How did Mike Zone survive? He could see beyond the barbed wire, the cruelty of the guards, and the freezing winter cold. He could see something that kept him alive. He could see his own future. In fact, he could taste it.

 When I had the honor of serving as Ohio Attorney General, I met young men and women in prisons who could not see their future. Any future. For many of them, prison was a land beyond pain. For them, their zip code was their destiny- lost potential, lost productivity, lost hope.

I’ve come to believe that the greatest gift you can give to a person is the ability to imagine, envision, and believe in their own future.

That is what we do at Cleveland-Marshall. We help our students see their future and to believe in themselves.

Whatever our graduates do with their law degree, it is our mission that they will use it to help others to see their future and to believe in themselves.

This Week’s Monday Moment:  Dr. Viktor Frankl - In Search of Meaning  

Have a great day. Have a great week.

For copies of past messages, please go to this link: Monday Morning Messages

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 My views in all my Monday Morning Messages are my personal views alone and do not reflect the views of our law school or our university.

My best,

Lee

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