Golden Rule Peace Boat welcomed in Connecticut
The Golden Rule gets a New Haven fireboat welcome. | Henry Lowendorf / People's World

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Across Connecticut, sailing from port to port, the peace boat Golden Rule sparked learning, discussion, and renewed commitment to a “nuclear-free world and a peaceful, sustainable future.”

The peace boat’s year-long loop journey began down the Mississippi River and is now sailing up the East Coast, visiting dozens of ports. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace, the project highlights the grave and present danger of nuclear war and urgently calls on the United States to stop nuclear proliferation and join other nations in the U.N. Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

The restored historical peace boat originally set sail in 1958 to stop planned nuclear testing on the Marshall Islands. The crew was stopped and arrested, attracting international attention.

A warm welcome at the New Haven Peace Garden. | Courtesy of Paul Bloom

Captain Kiko Johnston-Kitazawa, a boat builder, is dedicated to this education project because in his hometown of Hilo, Hawaii, “probably over 40% of the people there when I was a kid were of Japanese descent…so they got word back pretty quick, what it’s like to be under a nuclear bomb,” after the destruction of Hiroshima.

Arriving in Norwalk on Memorial Day, the crew was greeted by local Veterans for Peace members who had just marched in a peace contingent in their local holiday parade.

Three days later, the Golden Rule sailed into Long Wharf Harbor in New Haven, escorted by a city fire boat. A busy three-day schedule followed as the crew visited peace monuments, addressed public schools, and enjoyed a concert with speeches from peace and climate change activists at the pier.

Visiting the Peace Garden, which designates New Haven as a United Nations Peace Messenger City, the crew received a proclamation from Mayor Justin Elicker. Recognizing decades of organizing by the City of New Haven Peace Commission and the peace community, Elicker said to applause, “We need to spend more as a nation on social services than we do on the military. We need to invest more in our people than we do in arms.”

Speaking the following day as part of a concert at the pier, climate organizer Adrian Huq, a co-founder of the New Haven Climate Movement Youth Action Team, presented details on the negative impact of military presence on the environment.

Climate Youth leader Adrian Huq. | Courtesy of Anne Ward

Emphasizing the connection between climate justice and peace, she said, “From learning about the major contribution of greenhouse gas emissions by military operations to the legacy of toxic military waste, I came to the realization that we cannot achieve true climate and environmental justice without significantly demilitarizing our approach to defense.

“My hope,” said Huq, “is that other climate activists can infuse anti-war views into their activism in order to truly fight for the wellbeing of our planet and its people. At this moment, these topics are often not discussed in the same circles, and the U.N. has yet to discourage militarism in their urgent pleas for nations to cut carbon emissions.”

The concert, organized by Fred Brown, featured the Inity Reggae Band, peace singers, and remarks by “Atomic Veteran” Hank Bolden, the last remaining survivor of the victims of those in the military subjected to atomic waste during weapons testing.

“I was one of a crew of young soldiers, all Black, who were ordered to pack up for a ‘special military exercise.’ On Jan. 18, 1955, without explanation, we were ordered to march miles into the desert and get into a trench,” he said. The result was multiple cancers for all of them.

Atomic soldier Hank Bolden. | Courtesy of Paul Bloom

Henry Lowendorf, chair of the Greater New Haven Peace Council, issued a call to cut military spending, now well over half of Congress’ annual budget, referring to Martin Luther King’s 1967 speech stating “a nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

Arriving in Hartford, the Golden Rule crew received a citation from Connecticut’s General Assembly and a welcoming resolution from Hartford’s Mayor and Common Council resolving support for “the U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, as well as other measures to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons and the possibility of nuclear war.”

In Middletown, the crew met with Mayor Ben Florsheim on their way to New London for two days filled with public dinners, concerts, and a rally against nuclear weapons at New London City Pier before leaving for points north.

The crew offered sails from New London City Pier where the boat was docked. An evening concert on June 9 with famed folk singer Charlie King at St. James Episcopal Church Hall included historical exhibits of the boat’s beginnings. The next day, a rally at the pier invited the public to “stand with the Golden Rule against nuclear weapons.”

Veteran For Peace Board member and Golden Rule organizer Gerry Condon talks with Connecticut Veteran for Peace and activist Al Marder. | Henry Lowendorf / People’s World

Frida Berrigan, of the Connecticut Committee for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, wrote in an op-ed published by the New London Day: “The Golden Rule’s visit allowed us to reflect on the work ahead. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is now international law, making nuclear weapons research, production, testing, deployment, threatening, and use all illegal. The United States and the other acknowledged (and unacknowledged) nuclear powers are not signatories to this historic treaty.

“So, we need to work for a groundswell of public opinion against these weapons with the power to destroy the world many times over,” wrote Berrigan. “The Golden Rule, with its simple message of peace, nuclear abolition, nonviolence, and environmental sustainability, reminds us that there is another way. We just have to catch the wave.”

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Joelle Fishman
Joelle Fishman

Joelle Fishman chairs the Connecticut Communist Party USA. She is an active member of many local economic rights and social justice organizations. As chair of the national CPUSA Political Action Commission, she plays an active role in the broad labor and people's alliance and continues to mobilize for health care, worker rights, and peace. Joelle Fishman preside el Partido Comunista de Connecticut USA. Es miembro activo de muchas organizaciones locales de derechos económicos y justicia social. Como presidenta de la Comisión Nacional de Acción Política del CPUSA, desempeña un papel activo en la amplia alianza laboral y popular y continúa movilizándose por la atención médica, los derechos de los trabajadores y la paz.