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Hi, my name is Jim Macdonald, and I have an odd assortment of interests. In no particular order, I love Yellowstone, I am an anti-authoritarian activist and organizer, and I have a background in philosophy, having taught at the college level. My blog has a lot more links to my writing and my other Web sites. In Jim's Eclectic World, I try to give a holistic view of my many interests. Often, all three passions show themselves interweaving in the very same blog. Anyhow, I think it's a little different. But, that's me. I'm not so much out there, but taken together, I'm a little unusual.

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    Wednesday, May 31, 2006

    All-nighter! 25th Anniversary of Peace Park Vigil! June 3

    Twenty-five years ago, Thomas and Connie began a vigil against nuclear war outside of the White House in Lafayette Park. This vigil has continued 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for the past 25 years.

    At Noon, on June 3, in Lafayette Park, an all day open mike speak out will take place, with featured speakers scattered throughout the day, among them Colman McCarthy. At night, the DC Anti-War Network (DAWN) encourages people to STAY ALL NIGHT in honor of the vigil, MAKING NOISE in honor of the 40 days and 40 nights of drumming at the vigil in 1991 during the first Gulf War, noise that led the elder President Bush to complain about sleepless nights due to those "damn drums." The weather is expected to be much more pleasant.

    Unfortunately, nuclearization remains with us. Just this month, in Nevada, activists, among them Western Shoshone Indians, managed to "indefinitely" stop a major above ground explosion at the Department of Energy's Nevada Test Site. This explosion, if it happens, would kick up a cloud of radioactive dust (from decades of nuclear tests) that would have been dangerous to the people of the Great Basin. While we worry about nuclear proliferation and nuclear power in Iran, the nuclear power industry, led by war profiteers like Bechtel, has taken heart from the rise in oil prices and have cynically proposed hydrogen power as the green alternative of the future. What they don't tell you is that the only really effective way to produce hydrogen is as a byproduct of nuclear power. In Iraq, depleted uranium munitions, which are supposed to be "safe" because the uranium is not enriched, but which we know to have caused awful suffering, have been dumped in vast quantities causing irreparable harm to many Iraqi people.

    The vigil has not stopped nuclear war; how could it? No small group of people can by themselves be expected to stop nuclear war. And, yet, how much further back might we be without the constant reminder and inspiration of Thomas and Connie and all from Proposition One who have maintained the vigil, people like Ellen and Troy?

    I became an activist because I was inspired by this vigil and have heard countless others say the same.

    Without this vigil, how easy it might be to keep the nuclear issue on an irrelevant back burner while other issues of the day take the stage. And, while one must admit that that inevitably happens vigil or no, any trip to Lafayette Park will always remind us that we have not done nearly enough to fight the actual and potential catastrophes that the nuclear age has brought us.

    Twenty-five years is a call for celebration, but it is a reminder of where we need to go. In the hands of people who think that nuclearization is merely a tool toward some other better end, those who have no say in the matter are always the losers, from the people, animals, and plants that are destroyed to the land that becomes a wasteland.

    We need to do more.

    Thomas and Connie have put themselves on the line for the greater activist community by protecting that space so that we all might use it to speak out against the policies of the US government. Holding that ground has not always been easy, and it will be far harder if the vigil ever packs up and goes away. The least we can do to support this vigil is to be out there on June 3 showing our support and by staying the night. Over time, we may be called to be there day after day keeping the vigil going. For now, at the very least, let us honor them with our presence on this day.

    Jim Macdonald

    DC Anti-War Network

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