Peace activist and radio
commentator Acie Byrd has died at the age of 77 following a battle with cancer.
Byrd was among an estimated quarter of a million U.S. military personnel exposed
to radiation from U.S. nuclear tests that took place from 1945 to
He was exposed to hydrogen bomb testing in the mid-1950s in the Pacific. He became a leading advocate for fellow atomic veterans, calling for healthcare compensation and a comprehensive test ban treaty. In 1977, Byrd was one of the founding members of Pacifica station #WPFW in Washington DC, where he served as a local and national commentator and board member for many years.
* * *
There is no greater testament to the truth of Pope Paul's assertion than Acie's work with "Atomic Veterans" and others affected by the U.S. Government's Cold War era nuclear weapons testing program. Acie was himself an "Atomic Veteran," having participated while ... in the Navy in U.S. atmospheric nuclear weapons testing in the Marshall Islands in the mid-1950s.
Concluding that the Atomic Veterans' quest for justice was inextricably tied to the continuing U.S. nuclear weapons testing program that went underground at the Nevada nuclear weapons test site in 1963, Acie joined with Anthony Guarisco and several other atomic vets in founding the International Alliance of Atomic Veterans. Comprised of atomic veterans from the U.S., Great Britain, Australia, and Canada, the IAAV campaigned for a comprehensive test ban treaty to bring an end to all nuclear weapons testing. Among other things, Acie and Anthony led the veterans group to an international world peace conference in Copenhagen in 1986, organized in protest of the Reagan arms build-up and saber-rattling against the former USSR, and in conjunction with the global Nuclear Freeze movement.
In early 1994, in response to the Clinton administration's revelation in late 1993 that the U.S. Government funded human radiation experiments during the 1940s, '50s, and '60s, Acie helped form the Task Force on Radiation and Human Rights, where he served as a member of the Task Force's executive committee and one of the organization's principal spokespersons. The Task Force eventually grew to include a coalition of approximately 30 atomic veteran, radiation victim/survivors, Native American, and public interest groups who banded together to serve as a public voice on behalf of the thousands of Cold War era radiation experiment victims and their families.
Seeing the need to give progressive-minded veterans a voice in electoral politics, Acie joined with other veterans in 2004 to form the Veterans Alliance for Security and Democracy (VETPAC), a political action committee. VETPAC initially championed the election of Senator John Kerry for president. In 2005/2006, VETPAC supported a dozen progressive veteran candidates in their respective bids for the U.S. House of Representatives; many who remain in Congress today.
Acie Byrd, the atomic veteran's Atomic Veteran, will be dearly missed by all of those he left behind.
* * *
Attention: All Atomic Veterans and Supporters!
WPFW 89.3 FM WILL BE HOSTING AN ACIE BYRD MEMORIAL DAY TRIBUTE MONDAY MAY 26 FROM 10 AM TO 12 NOON
SOME OF YOU WILL BE ASKED TO ASSIST WPFW PRODUCERS JONI EISENBERG AND GLORIA MINOTT WITH THIS SPECIAL. THE FIRST HOUR WILL BE DEDICATED TO ACIE'S ADVOCACY ON BEHALF OF VETERANS AND THE PEACE MOVEMENT. MORE DETAILS WILL BE SHARED NEXT WEEK.
The Station will be reading pledges made to the station in Acie's honor during this special two-hour tribute. We are in the midst of our spring pledge drive, and Acie would not have it any other way. We hope many of you will pledge for Acie on that day; or pledges can be made prior to the 26th and saved to be read during the special.