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Anti-Nuclear Weapons ship ‘Golden Rule’ to Visit

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Editor update: On Sunday evening, August 21, the public is invited to bring a dish to a 6:00 pm picnic for peace with the Golden Rule crew, hosted by the Veterans For Peace Chapter 111 and Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship Social and Environmental Justice committees. The Golden Rule is now docked at Zuanich Point in Squalicum Harbor and available to view.

Ellen Murphy writes about efforts to bring attention to present day unnoticed trillion dollar upgrade of nuclear weapons.

Did you go to the harbor in July to see the colonial-era tall ships and hear the cannons boom? The Lady Washington, fresh from a starring role in a Hollywood movie, and her companion tall ship, Hawaiian Chieftain, were in town offering tours and a series of battle enactments, advertised as “real gunpowder but no balls.” Now, from August 20-22, you have another opportunity to see a historic vessel: a humble, courageous little ketch named the Golden Rule that has…well, guts and no gunpowder.

The Golden Rule was originally sailed by a Quaker and Quaker-inspired crew in 1958 as the first-ever peace boat and she had a mission. Setting sail from California in early March of that year, she was going to sail forty-five hundred miles in an attempt to call world attention to nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands.

That the Coast Guard stopped her and jailed her crew in Honolulu did not mean that her mission failed. The crew of the ketch Phoenix of Hiroshima vowed to complete the Golden Rule’s mission and made it to the Marshall Islands “Proving Grounds.” By calling attention to the hydrogen bomb tests in the Marshall Islands and the resulting health effects on the world, the Golden Rule and the Phoenix of Hiroshima contributed very significantly to the end of atmospheric nuclear testing in the signing of the Partial Test Ban Treaty in 1963.

What the U.S. military called a Proving Ground was Ground Zero for the people of the Marshall Islands, once described, before they were bombed and irradiated, as “a heavenly necklace of coral atolls.”

Today, the restored Golden Rule, which like many of us humans had sunk in a gale and been hauled up by friends, sails to honor the historic boat and crew for their incredible courage. They were attempting, nonviolently, to be witness to the terrible destruction of the Bikini and other atolls, complete with the poisoning and dislocation of the Island’s people and beautiful culture. But that isn’t all.

The Golden Rule, sponsored by Veterans for Peace, sails again to awaken us to the new nuclear threats—the trillion-dollar “nuclear modernization” budget we now have, and the potential of a new nuclear arms race. She sails, in the words of her crew, “…for a nuclear-free and a peaceful, sustainable world.” Come to Squalicum Marina and its “day/youth” dock in Zuanich Point Park, to salute the boat and board for a ride. Listen, learn, dialogue, picnic, sail, sing, and have fun at all the events during the stay of the Golden Rule between August 20 and August 22. Check out the link for details. After all, she showed up for us and for the whole world in 1958, and she’s showing up for us again today.

When: Saturday, Sunday & Monday, August 20, 21 & 22.
Where: Squalicum Harbor, Bellingham, Zuanich Point Park
(On Google maps, it is Bellingham Marina and Zuanich Park)

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About Ellen Murphy

Contributor • Member since Jun 21, 2011

Comments by Readers

John Servais

Aug 14, 2016

Thanks Ellen for submitting this article.  The quiet trillion dollar program to upgrade all the nuclear weapons in the U.S. arsenal certainly needs public reporting at a minimum.  Far beyond the ability of local news. 

Some fun further facts about the good ship “Golden Rule”.  Her 1958 voyage inspired the founding of the “Don’t make a wave” protest group in Vancouver who protested the later Amchitka underground nuclear tests in Alaska - and which evolved into Greenpeace.  Yes, Greenpeace was founded as an environmental advocacy and protest group right up in Vancouver in 1971. 

So, the Golden Rule is special.  Beginnings that lead to great things are special, and this is certainly true about the Golden Rule.  I will make the journey down to the harbor to pay my respects to her and to the crew using her for a new and worthy cause, yet one connected so closely with the tragedy of the Bikini tests.

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