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Chain's Family Joins Memorial Ceremony

by Nicholas Wilson
Headwaters Article Index

Driven to see the places her son cared so passionately about
David Chain's family traveled to Northern California in late September to attend a series of memorial services held in Berkeley, Arcata, and Briceland (southern Humboldt). His mother, Cindy Allsbrooks of Coldspring, Texas, came with Chain's stepfather, two aunts, his brother and two sisters. She said the family had felt driven to meet the people and see the places that her son cared so passionately about.

On September 29, they visited the activists' blockade and the memorial altar that his fellow activists had built there for him. Carey Jordan, who was next to Chain when he died, gave this account of that visit:

"When Gypsy's parents came to the site, we all gathered around in a circle, maybe 30 to 40 people, around the altar and put offerings in remembrance of Gypsy on it. The family gave their heartfelt gratitude and respect for what people were doing to stand up for justice and what they believed in. They had never met people like this before.

The most remarkable thing to me was when the stepfather left he said, 'I'm a real tough man, but I've learned one thing here, and that's never to judge. After seeing you beautiful people out here, no matter what I thought before, I'm never going to judge again. And I'm going to bring that message to other people (back in Texas) who might be living a middle class life and might be judgmental.'"

That evening, family members attended a standing room- only memorial service near Garberville. There were brief presentations by people of the many and varied belief systems, including Pagan, Goddess, and Native American as well as Jewish and Christian.

One of the high points of the evening came when the local chapter of Veterans for Peace honored the fallen activist for service to his country. A spokesperson said:

We honor David "Gypsy" Chain, not as a conqueror, not as a victor, not even as a martyr.

We honor David as a fellow warrior, a warrior of words, but a warrior just the same.

We honor him for his commitment to nonviolence even in the face of hatred and destruction.

We honor him because he answered the call of justice, and for his courage he paid the ultimate price.

We honor him because he took a stand against plunder and greed. He gave selflessly of all that he had to give. He walked the path of his convictions. He lived out his vision for a better world, and to that vision he gave the last full measure of his devotion.

David's body is gone from our ranks, yet his spirit lives on in each of us. His name will not be forgotten. To his surviving kin, we offer our deepest condolences. You can be proud of David. He never hurt anyone; he died while standing against senseless destruction.

We now therefore present a citation posthumously to Chain's family: To David "Gypsy" Chain: In honor of your courage and perseverance in the face of grave personal and physical harm, the Veterans for Peace award you with the Wage Peace Purple Tear Award for your injuries received in the front lines of the timber wars Headwaters campaign. We respect and acknowledge your service and dedication to your country."

The audience responded with a sustained standing ovation and a howl, which is part of the forest defenders' culture.

Chain's mother thanked the crowd for helping the family heal their grief. Her voice choked with emotion. "I know there are going to be times when I feel crushed because I can't pick up the phone and talk to David ... and I can't put a present under the Christmas tree ... but y'all will never, never know how much we love you."

Darryl Cherney remarked, "Never before have I seen a person's death charge so many people with life." He led the audience in singing his song, "You Can't Clearcut Your Way to Heaven," which brought a smile to the crowd, including Gypsy's family.

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Albion Monitor October 15, 1998 (

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