Clarence Forester, a veteran of the Lincoln Bt. and the Regimiento de Tren of the IB, passed away today. Below is the obituary that appeared on today's edition of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Minnesota, USA.
Spanish Civil War vet dies at 89Peg Meier
Published December 1, 2004
Better than winning the lottery, Clarence Forester said in 1996. That's when he got a letter from the Spanish government, asking him to accept an all-expense-paid trip to Spain to be honored for what he had done almost 60 years earlier.
Back in 1937, he was a left-leaning young Minneapolis man who fought fascism in Spain. He joined the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, a group of American volunteers who fought for the Loyalists in the Spanish Civil War.
Forester died Monday at his Minneapolis apartment. He was 89.
Americans who joined the Lincoln Brigade were branded as subversive when they returned home, and Forester said later that he was hounded by the FBI and shunned by acquaintances in the 1950s and beyond.
His niece, Nancy Forester of New Hope, said she and her sister had no idea of their uncle's role in the war until he was featured in a 1996 Star Tribune article. They also didn't know that their late father, Kenneth, also had served. Her father decided to stop talking about it "when one too many FBI agents came to the door," Nancy Forester said. Now the surviving family is proud of the men, she said.
Forester and 49 other veterans of the war were treated as heroes when they returned to Spain in 1996. "People in Barcelona stood 10 deep to greet them," said Glenn Lindfors, Forester's friend who accompanied him to Spain and whose late father, Veikko (Vic) Lindfors also had been a brigade member. As they left a Madrid hotel for a celebratory feast, Lindfors said, they heard a roar and didn't understand at first that it was a gigantic cheer for the veterans.
All that didn't make up for how the veterans were treated at home, Forester said at the time: "This is still the only country that hasn't acknowledged that it was the correct thing to do to fight fascism in Spain."
He donated to the Minnesota Historical Society some of his war mementos for its Minnesota Radicalism Project.
Forester will be buried at 2 p.m. Thursday at the Finnish Cemetery in Cokato, Minn. There will be no funeral. His wife, Hazel, died in 1987. He is survived by nieces and nephews.
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