Zachary “Zack” A. Patterson, age 33, a three-time war veteran, member of the Birmingham Branch of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, and our newest representative of the local Education Committee, died on Feb. 9, 2021. His life was taken as a result of the mental traumas inflicted on him by the U.S. imperialist system.
Zack was an amazing comrade, a great friend, and a caring father whose soul burned hot with revolutionary optimism. Zack embodied the meaning of the word comrade, not as a title, but as a way of life. Whenever a call to action rang out, Zack took any opportunity to lend a hand. He would put others before himself and met these challenges head-on. We could always count on Zack to volunteer for any event. Zack stayed in close communication with our comrades in Alabama and he was a friend to everyone he met, and he will be sorely missed by all of us.
Birmingham branch members first met Zack during the 2020 summer uprisings against police terror. Upon learning of the Party’s presence in Birmingham, he was eager to get involved. It was not long before Zack was one of the branch’s most active and dedicated members. As an already principled Marxist-Leninist, Zack excelled in communist political education and went on to serve on the branch’s education committee. Zack contributed to security details at events like those countering racism and fascism at Stone Mountain in Georgia.
Outside of Party work, Zack was also a pillar of his community. He deeply influenced anyone who had the opportunity to get to know him. Zack organized first aid trainings for friends and delivered food and supplies to his community; his unique and uplifting personality allowed him to quickly make friends of total strangers. His selflessness fostered a sense of community, which spread to everyone he met and befriended along the way. Zack’s stalwart dedication to his party and community made an impact on the PSL, and the whole Birmingham community, that will never be forgotten.
Casualty of the U.S. imperialist system
As a young man, Zack enlisted in the military and was deployed twice to Iraq. Like so many other veterans, he enlisted because he grew up poor and working class. Recruiters at his school left an impression on him that the military provided a safety net he could not attain anywhere else. When telling others why he joined, he would make it perfectly clear that his experience overseas led him to principled anti-imperialism.
Though he often spoke casually of his time in Iraq, anyone could see that he struggled with what happened there. He never demanded sympathy for his trauma. Instead, he used it to fuel his activism against war and imperialism. Zack suffered greatly from this trauma. After returning home he devoted all his time to being a father, husband and revolutionary. Ultimately, and unexpectedly, Zack’s life was cut short by the overwhelming burden of his experiences.
Above all else: Zack was a high-spirited, upbeat, and hilarious individual. His stories and anecdotes have brought more laughter and cheer to both Party and private gatherings than we could ever convey. From opening fire on a camel spider while deployed, to getting lost in the streets of South Korea, he had an amazing story for every occasion.
Zack would want us to end this on an upbeat note, and with that in mind, we would like to close with a quote from one of his favorite stories, his hard-fought battle with the dreaded desert camel spider:
“I hit the lever so hard I skipped semi and went straight to burst. I’m telling y’all. There were pieces of spider big enough for them to bring back in evidence bags. I wasn’t exaggerating when I told them I feared for my life.”