Friday, July 10, 2015

What can we do to stop the train?

Last week, Bree Newsome's heroism in pulling down the Confederate battle flag (before the the South Carolina legislature got around to it) inspired a little conversation here about solitary acts of resistance. Usually what looks lonely is the fruit of a movement of many.

In 1987, Vietnam veteran turned peace activist Brian Willson's act of resistance, lying in the path of a munitions train in Concord, California, cost him is legs. This was most emphatically not a solitary act. A small, noisy community of people had planted themselves near the tracks determined to let the world know that death and destruction in Nicaragua began right there. Good friends were part of that community. Within days after Brian was maimed, thousands from the Bay Area flocked to a rally at the site; the Rev. Jesse Jackson likened the tracks' purpose to the trains to Nazi death camps; and we pulled up several hundred feet of rails with picks and crowbars. By coincidence, the San Francisco Symphony was on strike that week and a little band of musicians played "I've been working on the railroad" while we dug.

Willson has trudged on, on artificial legs, raising opposition to U.S. imperial wars. There is currently a fund raising push to raise the last $35,000 for Paying the Price for Peace whose trailer is posted here. It tells the story of Willson and other U.S. vets who have sought to impede wars. We should not forget.

1 comment:

Hattie said...

Indeed we should not. That was such an act of courage.