Refusing the Order to March, Part 2

“REFUSE THE ORDER TO LAUNCH” demonstration at the Natick Army Base on Sunday, August 27.


By Lewis Randa

The protest march from Natick Center to the Natick Army Base last Sunday, August 27, was important for reasons that extend beyond making a public statement against a potential nuclear strike against North Korea.

For our young college intern, Maddie Walters, who worked to organize the action, it was an opportunity, following two horrific years of recovery from a near death accident in high school that left her with a ​serious brain injury, to take a stand both literally and figuratively.

Maddie’s recovery has been miraculous — and her one-mile protest walk from Natick center to the army base was a poignant testimony, not only of her fear of nuclear war but a spirited demonstration of her physical recovery and the resilience of the human body and the human mind.  Maddie’s impact on others is profound; her contribution to peace is enormous.  We wish her well as she enters her freshman year at Lasell College in Newton.

I wish to thank​ the activists who read Peace Chain statements about the horrors of nuclear war, and extend my debt of gratitude to the ​members of the Common Street Spiritual Center and the First Congregational Church, ​without whom ​the action ​would not have ​attracted long-time activists from the area and several individuals who are new at taking such ​actions for peace.

The Natick Board of Selectmen that authorized the march did so trusting that an action organized and led by the Peace Abbey would be nonviolent and peaceful and would be conducted according to agreed-upon standards of conduct on town property.

Mass Peace Action provided the NO WAR banner and many marchers brought homemade signs that personally expressed their concern and outrage.   For those who were part of the demonstration, it was impressive to witness the professional, measured, and thoughtful response from both the Natick Police officers and the Federal police stationed at the Natick Army base.

I am grateful to report that such was the case both at the Natick Jail and at the Framingham District Court.

FYI:  Following my arrest, I declined bail, preferring to spend the night in jail in prayerful reflection while rereading the book “I REFUSE” by J.K. Osborne.   (I first read this powerful memoir of a Vietnam war resister during a fast which led to my discharge from the army as a conscientious objector in 1971.)

Monday morning I was transported to Framingham/Natick District Court where my wife Meg and peace movement attorney Greg Barison awaited my arrival.  The Judge reduced my fine from $510. to $100 and dismissed the case.    In the words of attorney Barison:  “No gesture for non-violence, however small, no stand for peace, however modest, goes for naught.”

Please join us at Noon on October 24th, United Nations Day at the Pacifist Memorial in Sherborn, MA, ​as we honor Retired Major Harold Hering who was discharged from his military career for asking the question:  “Are there checks and balances on the President when ordering a nuclear strike?”

That was in 1973 and Richard Nixon was president.   Decades later, we find ourselves at the gates of the military installation in Natick ​asking the same question.  It’s 2017 this time, and Donald Trump is president.  Some things never change.

Pray as though everything depends on God.  Resist as though God depends on us for everything.


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2 Responses to Refusing the Order to March, Part 2

  1. Stefan says:

    Dear Lewis Randa, Part 2
    We live in what Thomas Paine called “the times that try men’s souls,” what Gore Vidal called “The United States of Amnesia,” and what Lewis Lapham most recently calls (in his book with the same title) “The Age of Folly,” confirming once again that the primary purpose of American education, politics, and mainstream news media is to ignorate, not educate.
    Thus “we the people” need to recall some very timely words:
    “We can have democracy. Or we can have great concentrations of wealth in the hands of a few. We cannot have both.” (Justice Louis Brandeis)
    “History is now a race between education and catastrophe.” (H. G. Wells)
    Recalling Plato’s cave parable: “The truth is so often the opposite of what we are told that we can no longer turn our heads around far enough to see it.” (Howard Zinn)
    “America’s flag should be a skull-and-crossbones.” (Mark Twain)
    “The problem is not that people don’t know; it’s that they don’t know they don’t know.” (Noam Chomsky)
    “We must choose between non-violence and non-existence.” (Martin Luther King)
    “An eye for an eye only makes the whole world blind.” (Mahatma Gandhi)
    “The demand to abandon illusions about our condition is a demand to abandon the conditions which require illusion.” (Karl Marx)
    “How do wars start? Politicians lie to journalists then believe what they read.” (Karl Krauss)
    “It is easier to fool people than to convince them they are being fooled.” (Mark Twain)
    “We are led by lunatics.” (John Lennon)
    And so, my friend, here we are indeed, about to enter another “dark night of the soul,” reminiscent of America’s Indochina Holocaust (euphemistically called The Vietnam War) — most politicians and all too many citizens having failed to learn the lessons of history; our sad and fractured nation having betrayed our Constitutional ideals at every turn, now repeating the mistakes of Periclean imperial Athens and, it seems, equally doomed to domestic implosion. And yet, there are glimmers of hope, embodied in conscientious protest here and abroad, and in the possibility that the United Nations might soon, at last!, do its job.

  2. Barbara says:

    I wish I could attend the Pacificist Memorial on the day retired Major Harold Hering will be honored for having the courage to ask a still alarmingly relevant question: “Are there checks and balances on a President who orders a nuclear strike?” I will be there in spirit, applauding Major Hering and praying that no President will ever be so foolhardy as to support nuclear warfare or any other kind of warfare. How many hundreds of thousands of lives would be saved if our country is spared the trigger-happy goals embraced by war mongers?

    Here is a link to a mesmerizing article about Major Hering from the Washington Post:

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