Lessons we must learn from a presidential assassination

Leon Czolgosz is one of Alpena’s more infamous natives.

While many would just as soon forget him, to do so would be a mistake.

With one shot, Czolgosz helped change U.S. history. With one shot, he assassinated a president.

Czolgosz shot twice that fateful day in Buffalo at the Pan-American Exposition, but one shot was deflected off President William McKinley and lodged in his jacket. The second found its mark, however, and eventually led to McKinley’s death.

It would be a mistake to forget about Czolgosz because many of the things the country was experiencing in 1901 can be seen, as well, in little bits and pieces in the U.S. today.

The country had just come through a major economic crash, leaving thousands of people without jobs and hungry. That fueled not only economic turmoil, it also resulted in many social injustices as well. Czolgosz found himself moved by that injustice, and tried in his way to “right these wrongs.” Socialism and anarchy were prevalent forms of expression and political pursuits.

While the U.S. in 2018 is not the U.S. of 1901, all one needs to do is view the latest Nike ad or watch the hearing of Supreme Court justice candidate Judge Brett Kavanaugh to see that not only does social injustice still exist at the center of controversy today but also that anarchy and disobedience seem rampant in chambers once thought of as sacred and civil.

No, to ignore Czolgosz and what can happen when a person is so passionate he is willing to sacrifice his own life for a cause would be a serious mistake.

We thank former Alpena resident Jeffrey Brasie for sharing Czolgosz’ story with us this week and hope it reminds us to be ever vigilant, ever caring and ever mindful of those in the world around us.