While many admirable people have died in recent years, this was actually the first one that has moved tears to my eyes.
If someone were to ask me about people who have inspired me, Howard Zinn would have been within the top three. Some people are destined for greatness and adversity. The John Lennon's and Martin Luther King Jr.'s of the past are people who seemed fated to be leaders - for better or for worse. It's not to say that fact takes away from their greatness or their accomplishments, at all. It's more to say, that Howard Zinn was the type of person that made me believe anyone can be great, and that destiny has nothing to do with it.
Howard Zinn was not a leader, but his work was followed and criticized by colleges and fans alike. Howard Zinn was a man who taught at an african american all-girls-school during segregation. Who taught history at many universities and was fired for "insubordination". A man who was arrested time and again for civil disobedience, in attempts to preach peace based on history and reason. A man who "retired" on the picket lines with his students, and continued on to keep speaking out. To speak out against the indoctrination of our minds with war rhetoric and the belief that we are inherently destructive and weak as a people. A man who refused to give up on a country by us and for us, even when only few would listen.
Howard Zinn lived a long and fruitful life, yet I still grieve. For a world without people like Howard Zinn is a much quieter one - a world where we're only getting closer to going out with a whimper.