Ralph Kall R.I.P.
By Stanley Campbell
Walt Kall with Kathy Kelly.
Walt and Ralph Kall, two US Army veterans, from Rockford, Ilinois, died within five years of each other.
Walt was drafted into the US Army shortly after his 18th birthday and served his country honorably, including duty in the occupation of bombed out Germany in 1945 and 1946. The GI Bill helped him get a B.A. degree from Augustana College in 1951. Ralph was a veteran of the Korean War, and both attended many of the local Rockford Peace and Justice Action Committee meetings. He, and his brother Walt, supported their local peace group, and me (as a Vietnam Veteran Against the War member), through their many donations to the group and individuals, as well as their presence at peace activities. They were true Veterans for Peace.
I remember when they first showed up at Coffee Talks, when they were held at the Irish Rose. "Ralph and Walt," as they introduced themselves. We were always getting the two mixed up, because both would answer to either name.
I received a pair of boots that Ralph wore during his time in service. I left the pair of boots, nicely shined and spit polished, on Congressman Don Manzullo's desk after asking him to oppose the war in Iraq. The boots represented the many soldiers killed in that wasted war.
Both had a subtle sense of humor, and a very strong sense of righteousness and, when asked, spoke clearly for the poor and downtrodden, and against war and injustices. They made presentations at Veterans For Peace gatherings, and especially at reunions of Cuba travelers. They'd traveled there on a study trip in 1999 offered by Rockford College. They both spoke eloquently for dropping the embargo and having friendly relations with the Cuban people.
The two were always proud to lead anti-war marches we had here in Rockford, and were active participants in many discussion groups.
I salute Walt's and Ralph's service to their country, which included long time work helping the poor, speaking truth to power, and seeking more peaceful ways for the US.
Stanley Campbell is a long-time peace activist and a member of VVAW since 1971. He is the director of Rockford Urban Ministries.