Jim Goodenow is a Vietnam era veteran who has dedicated that last few years to working full time for peace. His Silver Eagle Greyhound-style “The Yellow Rose Peace Bus” has been his home as he has traveled the country lending a hand to many notable peace and justice efforts. The Yellow Rose ferried Cindy Sheehan, Iraq vets, John Nichols and I across Vermont last spring as we successfully raised the call for town meeting impeachment votes. He took Liam Madden and other Iraq Vets Against the War down the eastern seaboard last summer, as they went from one military base to another, talking about the appeal for redress that many active duty soldiers are starting to sign onto, demanding an end to the war.
Most recently he was in New Hampshire, where the Yellow Rose was riding caravan with John McCain’s “Straight Talk Express”, providing a pointed contrast with its large “Bring Them Home Now”, “What Honorable War?” and “Don’t Bomb Iran” signage emblazoned on the sides. And it was in New Hampshire that Jim encountered a sort of bus driver road rage, McCain style. Videographers on the Yellow Rose filmed McCain’s press bus performing blocking maneuvers and eventually running the Yellow Rose into the breakdown lane, just to prevent the possibility of a photograph of Jim’s traveling billboards of truth running alongside McCain’s fictional claim to be the truth teller. This turned out to be a harbinger of an even nastier event to come.
After the NH primaries, Jim was headed to South Carolina to hook up with some peace activists there to continue his good work in South Carolina leading up to their primary next week. He stopped in New Jersey to get some maintenance performed on the bus by a garage that Jim knows and trusts. Mechanics there adjusted the brakes, checked the engine, gave it a good look over and handed it back to Jim in good shape and ready to roll. A couple of hours down the road, still in N.J. Jim pulled into a rest area, had dinner and decided to take a short nap. While he was preparing for his nap, he saw a man walk by the bus, to the edge of the parking lot, look carefully all around him, and walk back towards the bus. When he went around the back of the bus, the man was out of sight and Jim didn’t give it much thought. He had turned off the engine and was ready to settle down for his nap when the back of the bus was quickly engulfed in flames. Jim escaped unharmed, but the bus is almost certainly a total loss and he lost most of his clothing and bedding which were near the engine compartment.
Jim has received lots of threats over the years as he has boldly staked his claim of free speech, and while investigators have not yet determined if this was an act of arson or not, it only fits in with the new atmosphere of brown shirt style intimidation that the Bush/Cheney regime has engendered with vile rhetoric and criminal actions.
But Jim Goodenow will not be silenced and whether repaired or replaced, The Yellow Rose will rise again. You can help by going to yellowrosepeacebus.com and contributing via pay pal, or you can make a tax-deductible contribution to the Texas Vietnam Veterans Against the War, who will use the money to help Jim.
Dan Dewalt is a musician/woodworker/teacher who authored the Newfane impeachment resolution passed at March 2006 town meetings.