On July 30, 2017, I was honored to spend the day with some of the truly outstanding heroes of this world. By the grace of God they are still alive today. I had heard the words Ground Zero, but I had no idea what they were about. A friend invited me to attend their 40th anniversary. I rode up to the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, a short distance from Poulsbo, located right across the fence from the Naval Submarine Base Kitsap-Bangor, home of the Trident Submarines with their nuclear missiles.
These world heroes didn’t look like heroes, but like ordinary citizens struggling to survive on this planet like you and me. But 40 years ago a small group of people recognized the danger of nuclear arms to the very existence of life here on earth. They set out to wake up the world to the folly of building a nuclear arms race. They risked their lives, their total being sitting on tracks of trains bearing supplies that were used in the making of nuclear power, a form of energy that might well make the world uninhabitable for life as we know it.
Celebration of their 40th anniversary was a potluck lunch and dinner. Between the meals, we listened to several panels of 4 to 6 people telling their stories of how they tried to wake up the world to the dangers we face headed toward a nuclear holocaust and global warming. To hear the stories of middle-aged and sometimes elderly tell of their arrest and spending time in jail rather than back down, reminded me of the ancient prophets who often ended up in dark dungeons while trying to bring improvement to the world.
There was a middle aged matron who smiled as she told of how honored she felt spending three months in jail for such a cause. There were some interesting insights about some of those trapped by the industrial machine into making a living who couldn’t help, but who showed sympathy to those trying to bring the message of danger to the world. An example was a train crew who passed out cold water to those who had been sitting on the tracks in the hot sun for hours.
The Ground Zero facilities include a clubhouse with 3 acres in the natural setting of the forest right next to the submarine base. I saw the spot where their first building had once stood before two Marines burned it down. On a table next to the fence that separated Ground Zero from the submarine base, there were some paper peace swans with thread to tie them to the fence. I tied one to the fence myself, but made sure that the swan’s head stuck through the fence to the other side, my safe invasion of the submarine base.
It was truly an honor to spend the day with these people who risked so much to wake us up to the folly of what we’re doing in the name of power and wealth of the Empire. Instead of building more killing machines we should be building trust among nations and our fellow peoples of the world. These people we are preparing to kill are just like us. We have more in common with them than with those crazies at the top who are leading us all to our doom. I salute these heroes at Ground Zero, people making an effort to help us save ourselves from the course of action the climbers and empire builders have put us on.
J. Glenn Evans is a poet, novelist, political activist and author of Wayfarers—Where No One is an Outcast