Twenty-six years ago, the Great Peace March for Global Nuclear Disarmament was camped at the brand new Green Valley Resort in St George, Utah. Below is a quote from Walking for Our Lives, the chronicle of the three peace walks that I joined in the 1980s.
The resort invited us to enjoy the swimming pools, Jacuzzis, tennis courts and showers, and served us a poolside breakfast of individually prepared omelets. The townspeople accepted our invitation to visit the camp, to meet us, and listen to Peace March musicians perform original songs. At the same time, two representatives of the Environmental Protection Agency visited to try to explain away the effect of nuclear testing upon the residents of southern Utah.
Marchers were perplexed by contradictory evidence. The incidence of cancer in the St George area was 70 percent higher than in other parts of the United States. A new wing for cancer patients was being built onto the hospital at St George, yet the EPA representatives insisted, ‘There are no observable harmful effects from the underground nuclear testing.’
However, on the days that the wind blew toward populated areas, testing was postponed. And why the new federally funded cancer wing on the hospital? I felt betrayed and insulted by our government. Did they think we were stupid?
My anger was matched by every Marcher. We knew that during the 1972-1986 Nuclear Test Ban, the USSR withdrew or dismantled 1,324 strategic nuclear missiles and 21 nuclear-missile-carrying submarines. The USA had dismantled 896 missiles and 11 submarines. The United States had continued to test.
The disturbing news that the Nevada Nuclear Test Site had scheduled yet another detonation caused one of us to suggest that we, in protest, furl our American flag. Although we were sad and frustrated, the flag continued to wave at the entrance to our campsites and at the head of the column of walkers. The flag was the symbol of our country. The Great Peace March for Global Nuclear Disarmament was our protest.
Today over half the federal budget goes to the many aspects of war. Our schools, infrastructure, and social services suffer. Are we perplexed about the high incidence of cancer? Every day I hear of another woman battling cancer. What in the world are we doing?! Twenty-six years, an entire generation, and we are still being led to the precipice. Such a business, war.