In Memoriam: Daniel Ellsberg

Jun 16, 2023 | PDA News

In Memoriam: Daniel Ellsberg

With Heavy Hearts We Mourn The Passing
Of Our Friend And A True American Hero


Daniel Ellsberg personified so much of what is best in humanity. A person of deep compassion and abiding principles, this warrior Marine turned peaceful paladin risked his career, his freedom, and more. All to sound a clarion call against criminal acts of war that were committed in our name.

By conveying “The Pentagon Papers” to the major media outlets of that day, he laid bare the lies underlying the barbaric, indefensible violations of basic human decency committed by a U.S. government obsessed with prosecuting an illegal, imperialistic, undeclared war.

If that were all he did to further the causes of transparency, accountability, and peace, that would have been more than enough. Yet this champion, this paragon, this undaunted voice of reason devoted the rest of his life to saving the lives of others. This, by opposing nuclear weapons, speaking out against aggression, and setting an unattainable but still inspiring example for every one of us.

Just one of the countless examples of this came recently when Dan graciously agreed to join PDA for one of our weekly Progressive Town Hall meetings. I’d learned that we were planning a discussion of his life with Professor Christopher Appy who was working on a book chronicling part of Dan’s life. So I shot the great man an email that morning, inviting him to drop in that afternoon, if he could find the time.

I didn’t expect him to be able to join us on such short notice, but I figured, “What the heck?” Another person of such stature might complain about the last minute invitation, and probably even scold me for thinking that he might be available. Not Daniel Ellsberg. He modestly requested the link, which he used to sign on a few hours later.

Then, he sat back silently listening while we talked about him. This went on until I told our Executive Director Alan Minsky, who hosts our Town Halls, that our surprise guest of honor was available and eager to greet our audience.

You can watch that video by clicking here:

Twelve years ago, he’d honored us with this brief video:

Daniel Ellsberg was not just a great person. He was also profoundly kind, patient, considerate, and humble. His revelations exposing the illegal clandestine machinations of our government are beyond valuation and without equal, and so are his countless other contributions to our shared knowledge and, from these, our ability to understand the immeasurably high stakes we face as peace activists.

As the saying goes, “We shall never know his like again.” That’s true, but thanks to his tireless struggles for peace and his mentoring of each subsequent generation of activists, we’re empowered to carry on in his unfathomably formidable footsteps. And for all of this and so much more, we all owe Daniel Ellsberg a deep debt of gratitude. Thank you, and Rest In Power, dear friend!

In peace,

Mike Hersh for the PDA National Team