Disarm Trident: Savannah to Kings Bay Peace Walk
September 3 – 14, 2018
From September 3 – 14, DISARM TRIDENT activists will walk down the length of Georgia’s coast from Savannah to the Kings Bay Submarine Base.
Please consider joining us for all or some of the the walk.
If you are interested in walking or supporting, please contact
Voices for Creative Nonviolence:
Kings Bay Plowshares:
Reflection on Day 6 of the walk
By Steve Baggarly
Today, September 9th, is the anniversary of the first Plowshares action which took place in 1980 at a General Electric plant in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. On that day, eight people entered the plant and hammered and poured blood on nose cones to nuclear warheads, sparking a movement of citizen disarmament actions that continue to this day.
When we began our walk this morning in support of the Kings Bay Plowshares, I took the beautiful banner that is carried at the head of the walk that reads, “Disarm Trident” over a picture of a Trident submarine firing a missile that streaks by whales in the water and then birds in the sky, and has a mushroom cloud behind it. Under the picture it says, “Savannah to Kings Bay Peace Walk.” I carried this at the front of the walk for the first six miles of our thirteen-mile walk through Eulonia, Darien, and across Butler Island.
The coastal Georgia landscape has been seeping into my bones as I’ve walked through it mile after mile after mile—the pines, the oaks, the grasses and reeds and tannic colored water in the swamps and wetlands, the egrets dotting the landscape, the ubiquitous Spanish moss cloaking the area in mystery. The lazy rivers that defined each side of Butler Island, spanned by old cement bridges, seemed timeless, and the huge, vertical, billowing clouds between us and the unseen ocean to the east made it feel like we were walking inside a giant oil painting.
It is hard to reconcile the beauty of the area with the fact that our destination is the end of the world. Each Trident submarine at Kings Bay is capable of carrying the explosive power equivalent to 1825 Hiroshima bombs—27 megatons—or 55 billion pounds of TNT, or 7 pounds of explosives for every child, woman, and man on the planet. In theory, each sub could kill 200-300 million people. We have 14 of these subs, 6 are stationed at Kings Bay.
If these submarines ever fire their missiles it will be in a large scale nuclear war and will mean the end of civilization. The submarine crews will survive but will have to surface and land when they run out of food, and they will spend whatever days they have left on the poisoned earth looking for food until they, too, die.
Along with the banner I held a sign that read “Convert Swords into Plowshares” in honor of the anniversary of the Plowshares 8 and our friends of the Kings Bay Plowshares. It was Sunday and so the traffic on route 17 was minimal, but this Biblical vision captures the human desire to live life as it could be—where violence, terror, and oppression are relics of the past and where human needs are met.
The message of the plowshares movement since the beginning is that another way of life is possible. Relying on nuclear weapons isn’t in the order of necessity. Molly Rush, one of the Plowshares 8, as she hammered on warhead nose cones at GE 38 years ago “put a hole in one and a dent in another. And, I thought, these things are as vulnerable as we are, and we can undo what has been done. That was an amazing moment.”
Reflection on Day 5 of the Walk
By Ellen Barfield
I decided not to walk today, but instead helped with the big cleanup as we left our wonderful lodging in Savannah and moved to our housing in Brunswick for the next 3 days. Beth B and I met our primary Brunswick host and attended the Abbott Race Unity Institute monthly Unity in Diversity luncheon. The Institute is named for Mr Abbott who was born on St Simons Island, GA, in 1868 to
formerly enslaved parents and developed a newspaper publishing empire in Chicago. The guest speaker for the luncheon, Roxane George, spoke to the role of strong allies in combating systems of oppression, humbly noting her and all white folks’ bumbling defensiveness and need to recognize our privilege, after which a vigorous discussion ensued.
I have been thrilled with this opportunity to meet local folks struggling with racism, and am so grateful to Beth and other Kings Bay Plowshares organizers for the responsible work to acknowledge the connections between the horrendous militarism of trident subs and nukes with racism and the other oppressions. Beth facilitated connecting with the Geechee Kunda Cultural Arts Center in Riceboro to hear about the enslaved Africans who had rice-growing skills and created the Gulla-Geechee barrier island language and culture, and historian Hermina Glass-Hill recovering the story of slavery escapee, nurse and educator Susie King Taylor, and visiting the historical Dorchester School created after emancipation to educate people freed from slavery and where Dr King and other civil rights leaders later organized to struggle for the vote.
While my birth town and where I spent my childhood is Macon, GA, over 100 miles west of the Georgia coast, my family summered every year onthe islands our walk is passing. Finding out the history I wasn’t taught of the people whose labor built this state is so powerful.
The slow pace and effort of walking down the byways and town sidewalksof people directly affected by the pollution and economic distortion of a sub base in their beautiful tidal marshes is an important way to further our own understanding of all that is risked by the atrocity we struggle against. We walkers have seen the butterflies and wildflowers too, the graceful Spanish moss-draped live oak trees, the herons and hawks which soar over the lush green woods and meandering creeks. The
land is so rich and beautiful here. Of course we know why we resist militarism and nuclear weapons, but we feel the earth’s and the people’s pain with our own painful steps as we walk here, and it’s so important. We are so grateful to our brave friends for again lifting up what humanity must not deny, and so glad to support them with our passage.
Peace, Ellen Barfield
Reflection on Day 4 of the Walk
By Janice Svre-Dusynska
This morning, Melody and I went shopping for a few things at the nearby Kroger’s. She had provided delicious meals for us this past week. That meant planning, shopping and then cooking for 25. Today, she taught me the ropes in the kitchen, preparing mainly Vegetarian meals, as she was returning home.
Our Walk progresses closer to this unholy place of Trident nuclear bombs that violently ridicule all that we were taught from our parents AND what we learned from the Nonviolent Gospels of Jesus.
Yesterday two Plowshares activists visited us: Patrick O’Neill and Mark Colville. After months in prison, they were granted leaves to take care of health issues and, for Patrick, to be present as a Grandpa as his daughter gave birth.
It was so good to see them, my companions from past witnesses, these two blessed ones of the seven, fully conscious human beings aware of the insanity of nuclear proliferation and the power that the Trident submarines possess to destroy the gift of life-giving Creation.
These Plowshares activists have pierced that same numbness which Isaiah, Jeremiah, Jesus and others have named. They have heard the Spirit and answered “Yes” to the emboldening voice of Wisdom Sophia.
These were my thoughts today as I prepared
our feast for a community that cherishes what gives Life so abundantly.
Reflection on Day 3 of the Walk
Torrential rains subsided and the clouds cleared just as the sun rose on third day of our walk from Savannah, Georgia, to the Trident nuclear submarine base at Kings Bay. Before long, our walk finally cleared the sprawl of Savannah, leaving the strip malls and convenience stores behind. As Highway 17 narrowed from four to two lanes we took more care walking the narrow shoulders with our banner and signs.
Swamps and forests offer fewer opportunities to hand out leaflets or talk with curious observers than the parking lots we left behind. If we had fewer face to face encounters with the locals, the chance meetings that we did have seemed to be of a deeper quality than those of the past two days. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see one or two of the new friends we made today further down the road.
The day’s portion of the walk ended at the historic town of Midway, about thirty miles from where it began. This charming village has its origins in 1752, when the Council of Georgia granted 31,950 acres to Puritan immigrants from New England brought in to displace the indigenous Creek Indians. A plethora of historical plaques tell some of the history of some of the people who lived in the region, mostly commemorating events of war and revolution. Midway provided two signers of the Declaration of Independence. The historic Congregational church, built in 1792, replaced the original that was burned down by the British in the Revolutionary War. That same church was commandeered by scouts for General Sherman’s Army later in the Civil War. Largely omitting the stories of its Creek and African American citizens and neighbors, the devotion of the people of Midway to the “cause of Liberty” is repeatedly and proudly proclaimed on the roadside, cast bronze and carved in stone.
In a few days, we will approach Kings Bay, homeport to six of the United States Navy’s Trident submarines, whose weapons hold the potential of omnicide, the destruction of all life on this planet. The plaques we read in Midway commemorate past wars with real or imagined glory, but the future war being prepared at Kings Bay will have no one left to commemorate it. No plaques will be erected for future generations to remember that war and even the plaques cast praising those who fought in past wars will melt in its conflagration.
I hope that we are not so conceited and vain-glorious to imagine that our present walk will ever be commemorated by a bronze plaque along this same highway. But if future generations will ever read the ones already there, it will be because, and only because, right about now another Revolution is kindled, one that puts an end to war and economic exploitation, one turns the vast wasted resources of war to the healing of this tortured planet and all its creatures. We only hope that there will be a future when our walk down the coast of Georgia might be remembered as a small part of that urgently needed Revolution of love. ~
Reflection on Day 2 of the Walk
By Alice Elaine
Coming to coastal Georgia from Western New York has been every bit the adventure that I was hoping that it would be. As someone who has been trained as a master gardener and a master naturalist, I was excited to explore a different ecosystem than my own. The area that I am currently exploring is called the “Atlantic Coast marine ecosystem” or humid subtropical. In other words, there is never a hard frost here, unlike the place where I come from, on the Canadian border. Trees that grow well in western New York, such as apple trees, need to have a winter in which to go dormant. They don’t grow well in a humid subtropical climate. Trees that do grow well here include the sago palm, crepe myrtles, savannah holly, southern magnolia, and sabal palmetto. The most amazing and picturesque tree that grows in Savannah is the southern live oak. The branches curve over the streets. As you travel down the street, it feels as if you are walking under an arch of magnificent tree branches. Spanish moss grows on the branches.
On Victory Drive, palm trees were planted to honor veterans of World War I. World War I was an incredible blood bath. It’s hard to believe that such a devastating war was fought. It was a war in which cruel weapons, such as mustard gas, were used. It was called the War to end all Wars but, unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way. We still give out poppies to remember the dead of World War I and all succeeding wars.
The palm trees on Victory Drive are a spectacular sight. They are a reminder of both the beauty of nature and the burden of memory.
Today on the second day of our walk from Savannah to Kings Bay, we walked past the Savannah River and various estuaries. We saw a large white bird in the water and we saw magnificent birds in the sky. The most common butterfly that I have seen is the gulf fritillary. They are orange butterflies with very distinctive markings. They are especially fond of the lantana plant that I was told grows like weeds in this area. The lantana is a perennial that produces small clusters of brightly colored flowers.
The walk today was beautiful. The sun shone brightly, producing a warm and humid day. We starting walking early, before the sun had climbed high in the sky. It was good. As we walked, we relished in the beauty that surrounded us.
We take our beautiful world for granted. We expect to wake up in the morning and see the butterflies and the birds and the bees and the trees and the shrubbery and flowers. We love that beautiful world. It is a fragile world. We don’t think much about those nuclear weapons in Kings Bay, the ones that could destroy so much of our precious earth. They are so devastating that they would make the destruction of World War I seem like nothing. If the nuclear weapons were actually used, would the butterflies still flutter by? Would the birds glide in for a water landing? Would the geese still fly overhead in formation? We don’t want to lose those beautiful, graceful creatures. We don’t want to lose that spectacular greenness that represents joyful life. We walk to say yes to life. We walk to say yes to our beautiful earth and to our many and varied ecosystems. And we walk to say no to the Trident submarine and to all weapons of mass destruction.~
Reflection on Day 1 of the Walk
By Kathy Kelly
Here in Savannah, Georgia, at the Wesley Oak Methodist Church, 22 of us rose early to begin the “Disarm Trident: Savannah to Kings Bay Peace Walk.” Three local TV stations had asked for interviews in advance of our departure from the Forsyth Park Fountain. We’re told that a gorgeous rainbow arced over the park as WTOC began interviewing Patrick O’Neill!
We started walking during a downpour. Fortunately, our signs held up, thanks to careful application of shipping tape. “Children Want a Nuclear Free World” said one sign. “Abolish Nuclear Weapons” read another. Janice carried the lead banner, a work of art created by Russel Wray, which includes images of a mushroom cloud, a Trident sub prowling the ocean floor and a “right whale” that is calving. (The Trident submarines interfere with the right whale’s calving habitat and exacerbate the risk of extinction for this species.) Steve Dear posted photos on #Disarmwalk (twitter) and Beth Brockman’s photos are on FB.
We were surprised by vigorous shouts and honks as we headed out of town. “You’re f_ _ _in’ Awesome,” shouted one passenger as a car drove past us. Another person leaned out of his car and raised his fist to cheer us on: “You are so right!”
Throughout the day, Beth Brockman handled multiple calls and tasks so that by nightfall she, Ken Jones and Patrick O’Neill could meet Mark Colville, newly released from the Glynn County jail. Mark needs a surgical procedure to remove a pre-cancerous spot on his face. We’ll soon have a new address for him: no need to write messages to him in the cramped space of a tiny postcard!
This evening we welcomed four more walkers, and we shared a round of applause for Melody Shenk who has coordinated the kitchen and prepared fine meals.
After dinner, two carloads of walkers headed for the ocean shore at Tybee Island. Tomorrow morning, we’ll rise on time to start walking at 7:00 a.m. We look forward to an evening potluck with members of the Wesley Oak Methodist church, the local Quaker Meeting, Mixed Greens activists and others who may be interested to exchange ideas and begin conversations.
Curtis Spear found time, this morning, to post on the Washington Post’s comments section in response to an article entitled “How an ICBM Commander Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.”
Curtis wrote: Tuesday morning over 20 activists begin a ten-day, hundred-mile march along the Georgia coast in solidarity with 7 activists who on April 4th this year were arrested for their non-violent protest at the Trident missile base in Kings Bay Georgia.
If humanity blows itself up, the survivors will surely say we should’ve listened to the abolitionists.
So, listen now to them and awaken to the peril that most choose to sleep through:
At Hiroshima kill rates per kiloton, one Trident submarine can kill 200 million to a billion people and utterly wreck the biosphere. We have 14 of them.
We fundamentally and categorically question the sanity of these weapons of civilizational obliteration. How is there any morality in such insanity? There is none.
Our willingness to live with the bomb dooms us to die by it. It is merely a matter of time. The Biblical call is clear: repent and turn away from such unspeakable evil.~