World War II ended in August 1945 with the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Instead of being seen as “the war to end all wars” called World War I, the end of World War II was embroiled in a geopolitical Cold War that lasted until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Throughout the 1950s, duck-and-cover training was common in schools, with fallout shelters (added after 1961) with emergency food cans waiting in the basement.
Postwar tensions forced the Soviet Union to develop its own atomic bomb and the United States to stay ahead of the “arms race.” Many of the tests of ever-increasing destructive bombs have taken place on Pacific atolls and islands. Fallout from these tests was detectable in the milk, which alarmed more and more people, including the Golden Rule crew. In 1958, four Quaker peace activists followed the Golden Rule to the Marshall Islands to prevent thermonuclear weapons testing. While en route from California to Hawaii to a proving ground, the crew was arrested by the U.S. Coast Guard. Despite his arrest, The Golden Rule launched a global campaign against nuclear weapons that eventually led him to the 1963 Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
After years of oblivion, the Golden Rule has been revived by Veterans for Peace, an organization dedicated to uncovering the true cost of war and militarism. The boat will cruise the eastern half of the United States in 2022 and 2023 under the name Great Loop Cruise. She said the boat will be docked at Canalside and tourists will be welcomed on deck on Monday 31st July.cent and Tuesday, August 1stcent. The WNY Peace Center is hosting the event.
The message of the Golden Rule is as relevant today as it was in 1958. Greenpeace, the predecessor and model of Greenpeace, has a message to abolish nuclear weapons worldwide. Nuclear weapons remain a threat, as we see today with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Western New York State has its own nuclear heritage, and Niagara County has a facility that still handles radioactive waste from the Manhattan Project, which developed the first atomic bomb.
Veterans for Peace conveys the message of “peace at home, peace abroad,” showing the nexus between domestic and foreign policy, and how war and militarism adversely affect both. President Dwight D. Eisenhower expressed a similar view in his farewell speech, warning that an arms race would take resources away from other areas, such as building schools and hospitals. He also warned of the military-industrial complex, where the common goal of maintaining a large military has a significant impact on public policy. With 13% of the U.S. budget for fiscal 2023 going to the military (more than $400 billion more than is spent on education and social programs), President Eisenhower and Veterans for Peace have a message for our nation’s leaders to take to heart.
For a schedule of events, please visit www.veteransforpeace.org.