Fred Batchelder, Michael Bookspan, Carl Barus, Vets For Peace, protesting the recommissioning and deeployment oto eit Nam of bttleship New Jersy at the Phiuladelphia Navy Yard
(Image by Peter Barus) Details DMCA
My father, a founding Vet for Peace, had served on the battleship Indiana in War Two, and years later was photographed with two members of the Philadelphia Orchestra in a tiny sailboat, tacking across the bows of another battleship being recommissioned in the Philadelphia Navy Yard, with STOP THE WAR IN VIETNAM emblazoned on the sail in electrical tape. There was precedent for this.
Some informal historical background...
"Golden Rule" was, and is again, a small two-masted sailboat that was sailed by Albert Bigelow and George Willoughby into the Atomic Test Zone to stop the atomic bomb testing in the Pacific that contaminated the Marshall Islands. They were repeatedly towed ashore by the Coast Guard, and were not vaporized. But they did raise public awareness of this awful crime against humanity, the Earth, and life itself.
That was in 1958, and at the age of ten, I went down to Fort Detrick, MD, for my first peace vigil. I believe I met "Golden Rule's" crew there. We were all excited about Golden Rule. Albert and George had just returned from being jailed again. George was part of our Meeting, I think. Margaret Rawson, another Quaker activist, was there, and her husband was the head of the biological weapons lab inside the fort, which was the object of our protest. That afternoon Margaret's husband was visited by the military commander of the fort, who said there was a crowd of "Communists" at the gate, and offered an escort home. "No," he replied, "My wife is out there with them, they'll be coming to our house for dinner, would you like to join us?"
At the time, the US Government was not only irradiating inhabited Pacific islands, and spreading plutonium across the landscape in the Southwest, but injecting it into indigent patients in a hospital in Cincinnati to see what would happen to them. They died horribly of course. But "indigents" is one of those words that means "not White," so this was not considered newsworthy. In the late eighties a friend of mine had been a lawyer for the above-mentioned islanders, so shamefully treated by our government after being intentionally deluged with fallout in the tests the Golden Rule had been trying to stop. To this day they are still suffering the effects of that terrible crime, and have only recently been allowed or forced to accept a few hundred dollars and return to their original home island, with its glowing beaches. The islanders and the "indigent" patients had all been the unwitting subjects of a horrific experiment, the effects of which were already well understood in Hiroshima and Nagasaki to be a hideous variety of unbearable ways to die. I was told that in the Cincinnati case, by a court order, a commemorative plaque was installed in a boiler room of the hospital.
The following, sent this week by the Vets for Peace Golden Rule Project, is all the more poignant to me in light of these memories...
Seventy-five years ago today - July 16, 1945, the United States detonated the first atomic bomb, which was named "Trinity," in New Mexico. In less than one month's time, the first three nuclear weapons had blasted the planet, unleashing a destructive force with consequences that will linger for thousands of years.
This issue of the Golden Rule eNews is devoted to remembering those horrible events and to educating ourselves about the continuing impact U.S. militarism in the Pacific, with particular focus on Hawaii.
The Golden Rule peace boat is currently in Honolulu, sheltering-in-place until Covid-19 restrictions can be safely lifted in the Marshall Islands and throughout the Pacific. In the meantime, we remain committed to our mission to rid the world of nuclear weapons and to sail for a peaceful, sustainable future.
Seventy Five Years Ago - July 16, 1945 The Atomic Era Began with the Trinity Test in Alamagordo, New Mexico. It Changed the World Forever.
Both the yield (21 kilotons) and the fallout exceeded expectations of the scientists by far. Wind carried the fallout over a hundred miles and rolls of film as far away as Indiana was ruined. "If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst at once into the sky, that would be like the splendor of the mighty one. Now I am become Death, destroyer of worlds.", said Robert Oppenheimer afterwards. Survivors and their descendants are still trying to get health care and compensation. Downwinders of that blast are still trying to get health care and compensation for the injuries to themselves and their descendants.
Because ten of the thirteen pounds of plutonium did not fission but were drawn seven miles into the stratosphere and rained back down on the planet, a huge area of the Southwest will be contaminated for 240,000 years with the most toxic poison known to man.
Just 3 weeks later, On August 6, Hiroshima, Japan was destroyed and 180,000 civilians died by the end of the year.
In five square miles of the city, 92% of the buildings were destroyed or damaged by the blast and fires.
On August 9, Nagasaki was bombed, with over 80,000 killed.
Tens of thousands died instantaneously and others died slowly and agonizingly as a result of burns and radiation. Survivors are still susceptible to leukemia, tumors, and post-traumatic stress. But the damage didn't stop there - children and grandchildren of survivors had increased chances of small brain sizes, delayed development, blindness and increased susceptibility to leukemia and other cancers.
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