Robert Randall, a long time war tax resister (WTR) was remembered on Valentine’s Day by some of the communities that he was instrumental in being a part of in recent decades. The memorial was organized by members of the King’s Bay Plowshares action that took place near Robert’s home in Brunswick, Georgia. Robert rose to the occasion of supporting the nuclear disarmament action at the King’s Bay Naval Base near St. Marys, Georgia. For years, Robert had been a part of a community resisting the nuclear Trident submarines that were docked there.
Ruth Benn shared from her reflection for NWTRCC, Robert Randall Presente/ Always Present, in which she spoke of how Robert identified as a “war tax converter” in his words; how he was a Conscientious Objector at age 18, “thinking that at that age one should be thinking about going to war and also paying for war.” Ruth highlighted what many of us in the NWTRCC network experienced, Robert’s warm welcome to newcomers and old friends alike and awareness of what was happening locally; contagious energy to get involved. Ruth states “More than anything Robert knew that the primary reason people come together is to share stories and fears and ideas to sustain our resistance and survive the economic challenges.”
The memorial was on Valentine’s Day because it was Robert’s favorite holiday. (You can watch the memorial here.) While Robert must have enjoyed celebrating love on this day, I can’t believe that his devotion to this day was removed from the history of St. Valentine, being a Conscientious Objector to war as well. In an Empire far, far away, traditinoally St. Valentine resisted conscription to the Roman army by marrying men of military age. Robert was clear in his prinicples of not killing and not having others kill in his name.
On Valentine’s Day, the Golden Rule was docked near Kings Bay during Robert’s memorial. In 1958, the Golden Rule attempted to sail to the Marshall Islands to interrupt the atomic testing on the Marshall Islands. Four Quakers were arrested for their attempts. Veteran for Peace has restored the boat as well as the mission for nuclear disarmament. In recent years the Golden Rule has been traveling throughout the U.S. spreading the message of nuclear disarmament as well as the history of those in the U.S. who have been resisting nuclear weapons since the dawn of the atomic era. Find out when the Golden Rule is coming to your community and check out the schedule of events and past stories here as well as a tribute to Robert’s commitment to nuclear disarmament with the Kings Bay Plowshares and the Golden Rule.
There was recent news about another pivotal actor in nuclear deescalation and antiwar activism. Daniel Ellsberg wrote a letter to friends and colleagues about his diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. In an eloquently written letter he states:
As I look back on the last sixty years of my life, I think there is no greater cause to which I could have dedicated my efforts. For the last forty years we have known that nuclear war between the U.S. and Russia would mean nuclear winter: more than a hundred million tons of smoke and soot from firestorms in cities set ablaze by either side, striking either first or second, would be lofted into the stratosphere where it would not rain out and would envelope the globe within days. That pall would block up to 70% of sunlight for years, destroying all harvests worldwide and causing death by starvation for most of the humans and other vertebrates on earth.
So far as I can find out, this scientific near-consensus has had virtually no effect on the Pentagon’s nuclear war plans or U.S./NATO (or Russian) nuclear threats. (In a like case of disastrous willful denial by many officials, corporations and other Americans, scientists have known for over three decades that the catastrophic climate change now underway–mainly but not only from burning fossil fuels–is fully comparable to U.S.-Russian nuclear war as another existential risk.) I’m happy to know that millions of people–including all those friends and comrades to whom I address this message!–have the wisdom, the dedication and the moral courage to carry on with these causes, and to work unceasingly for the survival of our planet and its creatures.
I’m enormously grateful to have had the privilege of knowing and working with such people, past and present. That’s among the most treasured aspects of my very privileged and very lucky life. I want to thank you all for the love and support you have given me in so many ways. Your dedication, courage, and determination to act have inspired and sustained my own efforts. My wish for you is that at the end of your days you will feel as much joy and gratitude as I do now.
I encourage you to read the full letter here.
Also of note is that WTR Randy Kehler influenced Daniel Ellsberg‘s role in releasing the Pentagon Papers.
Post by Chrissy Kirchhoefer