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Harry Leslie Smith, World War II veteran and prominent social voice, dead at 95

The New York Daily News - 11/28/2018

Nov. 28--Harry Leslie Smith, a prominent activist who established himself as a leading voice for social change during his later years, died early Wednesday.

He was 95.

"I am back home to our home and I (am) alone," Smith's son, John, tweeted from his father's account. "It is 4:36 in the morning and I am wrapped in the blanket that covered him as he lay dying. And, I know exactly what my steps are. I will follow in his footsteps. I will endeavour to finish his projects."

The England-born Smith was a well-known critic of austerity politics and an advocate of the National Health Service in the United Kingdom.

Born in 1923, Smith and his family endured poverty during his youth and lived through the Great Depression.

Smith served in World War II as a member of Britain'sRoyal Air Force.

Decades later, Smith garnered a following on social media, where he often shared his political and social viewpoints. He drew more than 250,000 followers on Twitter and began a podcast -- titled "Harry's Last Stand" -- in 2017, when he was 94.

He was also a strong supporter of England'sLabour Party and electrified the audience at a 2014 conference for the organization where he advocated for the National Health Service.

"We will all miss Harry Leslie Smith -- he was one of the giants whose shoulders we stand on," tweeted Jeremy Corbyn, the head of the Labour Party. "A World War Two veteran who dedicated his life to fighting for our National Health Service, a peaceful world and for countries to meet their moral responsibility by welcoming refugees."

Smith made it his mission to visit refugees in recent years, starting a fundraiser in October 2017 to raise money for his trips.

"For close to one hundred years, I have witnessed humanity at its best and worst," Smith wrote in the fundraiser description. "And right now in this present age, mankind is in one of its most difficult stages. It's why I need your help today, so that I can complete the last great challenge of my existence before ld age consumes me. I am one of the last few remaining voices left from a generation of men and women who built a better society for our children and grandchildren out of the horrors of the Second World War as well as the hunger of the Great Depression."

Smith spent much of his life living in Canada, and he died in Ontario. His son on Wednesday tweeted that Smith passed away "in the warm and caring arms of public health care."

* Labour Party (UK)


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