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Memorial Service for Philip Melanson


Guest John Gillespie
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Guest John Gillespie

U. of Massachusetts Chancellor Professor of Policy Studies Philip H. Melanson will be memorialized at a service on Friday, 12/15/06. He had died in September at age 62 of cancer.

The brief obit in The Boston Globe of Thursday, 12/14/06 does not mention his biography of Lee Harvey Oswald, entitled "Spy Saga"written in, I believe, the early nineties.

Thoughts on that work and his use of the Freedom of Information Act are solicited. I would like to point out that a recent PBS resurrection of "Who Was Lee Harvey Oswald" featured Melanson in clips, the presentation of which clearly was designed to have him out of context and sound as a Lone Nutter. He was anything but, of course.

John Gillespie

Edited by John Gillespie
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Thanks for posting that JG.

Phil was the late recipient of a COPA award this year in Dallas.

When the board of directors were going to disolve COPA in Dallas after a conference some years ago, Phil joined me in convincing other directors to keep it going and then was the first (Joe Biles was another) to agree that the JFK Grand Jury project was worhwhile and sat with me and seconded my original Grand Jury proposal.

Phil turned me on to a California attorney who submitted an unsuccessful RFK Grand Jury petition that was the basis for the JFK petition and accurately wrote the history of COPA's law suit against the DOD for the Army After Action Report summaries.

The date on Phil's COPA Sylia Meagher Award is 2005, which was when he was suppose to get it.

The text is by John Judge.

BK

Philip H. Melanson

We lost an indefatigable researcher and a good friend this year in

Philip H. Melanson when he died of an incurable cancer on September 18

this year, at age 61. His death is a loss to his family, friends and

students and to the assassination research community and the country as

a whole.

He was a Chancellor Professor of Political Science at U Mass Dartmouth

<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UMass_Dartmouth>, and had served as chair

of the Political Science Department for 12 years. He also served as

coordinator of the Robert F. Kennedy Assassination Archive

<http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Robert_F._Kennedy_Assassination_Archive&action=edit>,

which is the world's largest collection of the subject.

Phil Melanson had been a board member from the inception of the

Coalition on Political Assassinations and was a regular speaker at our

annual and regional conferences on three major assassinations of the

1960s, Dr. King and the Kennedy brothers. He brought a scholar’s

discipline, a hatred for secrecy and a love for truth to our work; his

brilliant analytical mind and meticulous dissection of government

reports, investigations and classified records led to discoveries about

the real Lee Harvey Oswald and the Secret Service that is charged with

protecting government officials and candidates for public office.

Professor Melanson wrote a number of books and was an internationally

recognized expert on political violence and government secrecy. His

published works relate to political assassination and violence,

governmental secrecy and law enforcement and intelligence agencies. He

appeared on NPR <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NPR>, BBC

<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BBC>, CBS

<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CBS>, and CNN

<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CNN> news programs.

He made a total of 95 Freedom of Information Act

<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_Information_Act> (FOIA)

requests, which resulted in the release of over 200,000 pages of

federal government documents on topics relevant to his research.

His published works also include analysis on the role of secrecy in

public policy:

/Knowledge, Politics, and Public Policy/ (ed.) (Cambridge, Mass.:

Winthrop Publishers Inc., 1973).

/Political Science and Political Knowledge/ (Washington, D.C.

<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washington%2C_D.C.>: Public Affairs

Press, 1975).

/Secrecy Wars: Privacy, National Security and the Public’s Right to

Know/ (Dulles, Virginia

<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dulles%2C_Virginia>: Brassey’s Inc.,

January 2002). (ISBN 1-57488-324-0

<http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Special:Booksources&isbn=1574883240>)

The assassinations:

/Spy Saga: Lee Harvey Oswald

<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lee_Harvey_Oswald> and U.S. Intelligence/

(New York: Prager, 1990) (ISBN 0-275-93571-X

<http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Special:Booksources&isbn=027593571X>).

/The Robert F. Kennedy <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_F._Kennedy>

Assassination: New Revelations on the Conspiracy and Cover-up,

l968-l99l/ (New York: Shapolsky Publishers, l99l). Paperback edition, 1994.

/Who Killed Robert Kennedy?/ (Berkeley, Cal Odonian Press, 1991).

/Shadow Play: The Killing of Robert Kennedy, The Trial of Sirhan

Sirhan,

and the Failure of American Justice./ (with William Klaber, (New York:

St. Martin's Press, 1997). Paperback edition, 1998. (ISBN 0-312-15398-8

<http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Special:Booksources&isbn=0312153988>)

/The Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr./ (New York: SPI Books, 1991). Paperback edition, 1994.

/Who Killed Martin Luther King?/ (Berkeley, Cal.: Odonian Press, 1991).

/The MURKIN Conspiracy: An Inquiry into the Assassination of Dr. Martin

Luther King, Jr.

<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dr._Martin_Luther_King%2C_Jr.>/ (New York:

Praeger Publishers, l988). (ISBN 0-275-93029-7

<http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Special:Booksources&isbn=0275930297>)

And the very Secret Service:

/The Secret Service <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secret_Service>: The

Hidden History of an Enigmatic Agency/ with Peter Stevens, (New York):

Carroll and Graff, 2002) (ISBN 0-7867-1617-7

<http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Special:Booksources&isbn=0786716177>).

/The Politics of Protection: The U.S. Secret Service in The Terrorist Age/, (New York: Praeger Publishers, l984).

We have in our midst, I fear, few like Phil Melanson, with both a

burning desire for the truth and for social justice as well as the

skills and discipline to unearth real facts from the mounds of

propaganda, fiction and deliberate disinformation. Dr. Melanson’s

works did not speculate, they informed.

Professor Melanson’s attention to details and documents led to the

Robert F Kennedy Assassination Archive that is now housed in the

University Library Special Collection at the University of Massachusetts in Dartmouth. This is the world's largest, most complete compilation of materials relating to this murder. Established in 1984, the archives contains thousands of copies of government documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act public disclosure process as well as manuscripts, photographs, audiotape interviews, video tapes, news clippings and research notes complied by journalists and other private citizens who have investigated discrepancies in the case.

He was not a self-promoter; in fact his humility spoke volumes and

could teach us something about ourselves, and our public presence. I recall

many times offering him additional time on the agenda to speak and he

would suggest 5 minutes as sufficient. Phil also had a wonderful sense

of humanity and humor, and I spent more hours on the phone with him

than his family would have liked in animated conversation about political

events and realities and the irony inherent in our work.

Sadly, my own work schedule for Congresswoman McKinney and his increasing illness did not allow any recent contacts or discussions, and my emails and calls to invite him to this year’s COPA gathering to speak went unanswered. Now I know why.

The press tried to attack his character at times, calling him a “conspiracy buff” but none of them dared to challenge or question his impeccable research. His stature and integrity and his commitment to discovering and speaking the truth led, as it has for many others in our circles, to his vilification but never his repudiation. If there were more academics like him, more people willing to honestly and objectively compile and research modern historical assassinations and political structures that both use them and make them possible, and to fight for transparency and against the secrecy that makes informed democratic decisions impossible, we might begin to approach the justice that, as Phillip Marlowe, the fictional detective says is like a full and rising Moon. “The Moon was cold and clear and crisp, like the justice we dream about, but we never see.” Many of us can taste it, though; and Phil Melanson was an epicure.

I am fond of quoting Dr. Martin Schotz in a letter to Vincent Salandria,

reproduced in his important anthology of early JFK assassination research and response, /History Will Not Absolve Us/, “It is so important to understand that one of the primary means of immobilizing the American people politically today is to hold them in a state of confusion in which anything can be believed but nothing can be known…” And researcher Gaeton Fonzi of the House Select Committee on

Assassinations staff wrote, “Today most American /believe/ there was a conspiracy to kill President Kennedy, but they don’t /know/ it. They don’t want to /know/ it – and our government doesn’t want to /know/ it and our elected representative don’t want to /know/ it, because knowing it would mean having to do something about it. That is an awesome thought.”

Phil Melanson believed it, knew it and did something about it. His

work, if taken seriously, should move all of us to do something about it,

about the lies, about the failed investigations, about the continuing secrecy, and about making democracy work.

Our Sylvia Meagher Lifetime Achievement Award, named after a JFK

assassination researcher whose work /Accessories After the Fact/ set a

standard for excellence in dissection of the Warren Report, is given in

honor and recognition of the life work of those among us who add to the

work of others and inform the public of the truth. I am sad that this

must be presented posthumously, because Phil Melanson deserved so much

more than our recognition and support and deserved to know it while

still among us. I am however, glad and honored to be presenting this

plaque to an archivist at the Robert F. Kennedy Assassination Archives,

Pat Sikora, who has joined us in the stead of Phil’s wife, who could

not be here to accept.

It reads:

Coalition on Political Assassinations presents the Sylvia Meagher Lifetime Achievement Award 2005 in memory of Philip H. Melanson, PhD in recognition of one who always sought the truth.

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Thanks for posting that JG.

Philip H. Melanson

He brought a scholar’s discipline, a hatred for secrecy and a love for truth to our work; his

brilliant analytical mind and meticulous dissection of government

reports, investigations and classified records led to discoveries about

the real Lee Harvey Oswald and the Secret Service that is charged with

protecting government officials and candidates for public office.

We have in our midst, I fear, few like Phil Melanson, with both a

burning desire for the truth and for social justice as well as the

skills and discipline to unearth real facts from the mounds of

propaganda, fiction and deliberate disinformation. Dr. Melanson’s

works did not speculate, they informed.

He was not a self-promoter; in fact his humility spoke volumes and

could teach us something about ourselves, and our public presence. I recall

many times offering him additional time on the agenda to speak and he

would suggest 5 minutes as sufficient. Phil also had a wonderful sense

of humanity and humor, and I spent more hours on the phone with him

than his family would have liked in animated conversation about political

events and realities and the irony inherent in our work.

The press tried to attack his character at times, calling him a “conspiracy buff” but none of them dared to challenge or question his impeccable research. His stature and integrity and his commitment to discovering and speaking the truth led, as it has for many others in our circles, to his vilification but never his repudiation. If there were more academics like him, more people willing to honestly and objectively compile and research modern historical assassinations and political structures that both use them and make them possible, and to fight for transparency and against the secrecy that makes informed democratic decisions impossible, we might begin to approach the justice that, as Phillip Marlowe, the fictional detective says is like a full and rising Moon. “The Moon was cold and clear and crisp, like the justice we dream about, but we never see.” Many of us can taste it, though; and Phil Melanson was an epicure.

I am fond of quoting Dr. Martin Schotz in a letter to Vincent Salandria,

reproduced in his important anthology of early JFK assassination research and response, /History Will Not Absolve Us/, “It is so important to understand that one of the primary means of immobilizing the American people politically today is to hold them in a state of confusion in which anything can be believed but nothing can be known…” And researcher Gaeton Fonzi of the House Select Committee on

Assassinations staff wrote, “Today most American /believe/ there was a conspiracy to kill President Kennedy, but they don’t /know/ it. They don’t want to /know/ it – and our government doesn’t want to /know/ it and our elected representative don’t want to /know/ it, because knowing it would mean having to do something about it. That is an awesome thought.”

Phil Melanson believed it, knew it and did something about it. His

work, if taken seriously, should move all of us to do something about it,

about the lies, about the failed investigations, about the continuing secrecy, and about making democracy work.

Our Sylvia Meagher Lifetime Achievement Award, named after a JFK

assassination researcher whose work /Accessories After the Fact/ set a

standard for excellence in dissection of the Warren Report, is given in

honor and recognition of the life work of those among us who add to the

work of others and inform the public of the truth. I am sad that this

must be presented posthumously, because Phil Melanson deserved so much

more than our recognition and support and deserved to know it while

still among us. I am however, glad and honored to be presenting this

plaque to an archivist at the Robert F. Kennedy Assassination Archives,

Pat Sikora, who has joined us in the stead of Phil’s wife, who could

not be here to accept.

It reads:

Coalition on Political Assassinations presents the Sylvia Meagher Lifetime Achievement Award 2005 in memory of Philip H. Melanson, PhD in recognition of one who always sought the truth.

Thanks JG and Bill Kelly and especially John Judge whose words well- describe the Phil Melanson I knew and loved for many years. It is still hard for me to realize he is gone.

Dawn

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