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.