This will be a long day for the Peace Walkers – 17 miles. They will be on country roads around Olympia. I was only able to join this year’s Interfaith Peace Walk for a Nuclear Free World on the first day. On Saturday, Lee, another walker from last year, and I drove to Salem to participate in the start of this annual 2 week walk.
Riverfront Park, by the Globe…those were the instructions. Where were the walkers? And then I saw them. The distinctive canvas painted sign that is carried at the front of the column of walkers. Senji in his saffron robe, fairly glowing in the sunshine of a day that was already heating up. And then I finally heard it…the familiar cadence of the drumbeat.
Photo by: Lee DeVeau
I have been flooded by memories from a year ago, with special intensity for the walk to the gates of Hanford. That long, eerie march in Richland, along George Washington Way. The neighborhoods drop away as it becomes an industrial park of one nuclear related business after another. And then the landscape changes to parched desert and you reach those foreboding signs at the gates to this deadly dump for the nuclear industry.
Theodore VanKirk died on Monday at the age of 93. He was the navigator on the Enola Gay. The headline referred to him as “last survivor of Enola Gay atomic bombing.” My thoughts have always focused on those who were on the ground when that incinerating blast hit. That team of 3 didn’t know if the shockwaves would rip them apart.
Although VanKirk believed the bombing was necessary to end the war, he also came to realize that “wars don’t settle anything. And atomic weapons don’t settle anything…there shouldn’t be any atomic bombs in the world.”
I agree. Let’s keep beating the drums to spread the message…atomic weapons don’t settle anything.