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Dan Massey Memorial Service: Welcome and Introduction

Dan, college freshman, 1958
Dan, college freshman, 1958

Hello, everyone, my name is Brandi Ahzione, and Dan is a friend of mine.

Is my pleasure and humble honor to welcome all of you here as we celebrate the life of Dan. We are just across the park from Alison and Dan’s lovely home where they have welcomed countless others, for lots of fun, good eats, and fervent work for the causes the two of them believed in.

The family is so happy to have discovered this particular venue last month, the Josephine Butler House. They were especially thrilled to learn who Josephine Butler was and what the society in her name is devoted to: justice equality for all before the law. Butler’s own activism began in London as a young woman, after the passage of the Vagrancy Act, working against the criminalization of sex work and rescuing persecuted young women who were forced into prostitution because society left them no choice, a cause that Dan worked for up until his untimely death. Later, in Washington, DC, Butler became a leading advocate for statehood, and her understanding of that if Columbia was to be on display to the world then it needed to be a fully constituted state to make sure its own lofty goals of equality for all could be fully implemented and thus lead the entire world out of darkness. Dan and Alison chose as the icon for VenusPlusX, the image of Columbia, for those very same reasons.

Columbia is not only the name of the District, it is the name of the head-dressed and gender-nonconforming statue atop the nation’s capital dome, denoting inclusivity, and a symbol and standard-bearer guiding Dan and Alison’s work as activists.

Hail Columbia was an early anthem, written for the inauguration of George Washington, and considered our nation’s anthem until the 1930s, and it is still played to hail the country’s vice presidents. These words, especially the ones we’ve reprinted in the today’s program, never failed to bring tears of expectation to Dan’s eyes when he thought about how far we have strayed from fighting [tyranny] at every level by any means possible, and it was these words that serve to motivate his right action.”

Hail Columbia played.