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At 72nd Street where it enters Central Park, the marchers passed, “Hoosiers March for Nuclear Disarmament,” “Cut the Military, Not Schools,” “No Trident,” “Disarmageddon,” “Save Life on Earth,” “Mutual Freeze US/USSR,” “Choose Life,” “Peace Through Compromise Not Obliteration,” “Omaha, Nebraska, Home of SAC Headquarters, Says Freeze the Arms Race,” “Nuclear War Means Death to All God’s Children,” “Benedictines for Peace,” “World Disarmament or World Disappearance,” “We Can Stop Nuclear Madness,” “Pax Christi Philadelphia,” “Armaments Kill the Poor Vatican 1976.” “Don’t blow it Good planets are hard to find,” “War is Good Business Invest in World War III,” “Cooperation Not Radiation,” “Brown University We Want Peace,” “Freeze Now or Burn Up Later,” “Ethical Humanists for Peace and Survival,” “Want to Survive a Nuclear War? Move to Another Planet,” “First Strike Capability Doesn’t Make Me Feel Safe,” “No Nukes is Good Nukes,” “Grandmothers Against Nukes,” “Bread Not Bombs,” “A Feminist World Is a Nuclear Free Zone,” “Arms Are For Embracing.” Marchers for the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America carried signs that said “Peace Jobs.” Though the rally speeches and entertainment began at 1 o’clock, marchers streamed into the park for another two or three hours. The United Farm Workers were here; the Washington Peace Center; Blacks marching under the sign, “Save Humanity! Destroy Nuclear Weapons! Newark Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament.” The Dominican Sisters of Sparkill, New York, bore forward the sign, “The choice is no longer between violence and nonviolence, it’s between nonviolence and nonexistence.” A man and his son walked down the street, the father carrying an awkwardly drawn cartoon in which a father asks his son, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” and the boy replies, “Alive, please.” A young girl’s sign said, “I Hate Nuclear War.” The speeches and singing flowed on and on, and much good was said, although nothing said could be as much as what was happening. “If any of you think that people don’t have power, I say to you that you’re wrong,” Elizabeth Holtzman, Brooklyn’s district attorney, said. “It was the people of this country that forced the government to end the war in Vietnam. It was the people of this country that forced the government to remove a president who committed crimes in high places. The people of this country yes, the people of this world will make their governments listen.” “Paper treaties are not enough,” said Carol Bellamy, perhaps to be the next mayor of New York City. “We must together leave the negotiating table, enter the silos and dismantle this weaponry.” While President Reagan proposes his five-year plan for wining a nuclear war, Barry Commoner asked, “Where are the Democrats?” They have been voting in the Congress, and regularly, for big increases in military spending, he said. He called for a national campaign to pull out of civil defense and a U.S. initiative to destroy just one nuclear weapon. He stressed the newly-spreading study showing that $1 billion spent on nuclear weapons generates 14,000 jobs, while $1 billion for civilian projects generates 51,000 jobs. “What can I do? What can one person do about all that?” asked Orson Welles. “We are down to just two choices: life or death.” Dr. Helen Caldicott, an Australian pediatrician, is the president of Physicians for Social Responsibility. Drop a 20-megaton bomb on the expanse of people filling the Great Lawn, she told them, and you’d dig a hole 800 feet deep and three-fourths of a mile wide, every person there would become radioactive debris, every person within a radius of six miles would be vaporized, human beings would turn into missles flying at a hundred miles an hour, there would be radiation sickness, hair falling out, skin peeling off, people in fallout shelters would be asphyxiated, in 30 days after nuclear war up to 90% of American, Europeans, and Russians would be dead, there are only 30 days’ supplies of food in the whole world Yet, she said, Reagan is going for cruise missiles, which means “the end of arms control,” and for Trident 2 and MX missiles. “Trident 2 and MX are firststrike weapons!” she exclaimed. “These new weapons will mean this war that’s what the new President is doing Don’t believe what they’re saying watch what they do!” The politicians, she also said, are still authorizing all the funds for all of those weapons. “Watch those politicians! Use your democracy!” she said. “And remember there aren’t communist babies or capitalist babies. A baby is a baby is a baby!” Another powerful speaker this day on the Great Lawn was Randall Forsberg, founder of the Institute for Defense and Disarmament. “This is the biggest peacetime peace movement in the history of the United States,” she said. “The American people are fed up with the nuclear arms race. . . . The people who are simple-minded are not the peo ple who want a nuclear freeze. They’re the people who think we can race forever without incinerating ourselves.” How, she asked, can we spend $20 billion a year on “these stupid weapons” when research is being cut, infant nutrition is cut, school lunches are cut, student loans are cut, the elderly are forced to eat dogfood “We demand,” she said, “that the decency of this nation be restored.” From blocks away, while watching the marchers still pouring in, I heard a speaker at the Great Lawn say, in a European accent, “No more beautiful speeches. We want real disarmament!” And a labor leader exclaiming about the nuclear weaponry, “What the hell kind of society is this? We don’t want it. We don’t need it. On behalf of the machinists I say, Tell ’em to stick it up their ass!” Afterward, New York City Parks Commissioner Gordon Davis said, “It’s remarkable 750,000 people were here.” Police Commissioner Robert McGuire said there were 750,000 to 800,000 at the height of their congregation \(for many left before many had even too, 350,000 people gathered under banners like “We Are Children Who Want Peace,” and while Reagan’s secretary of defense was saying you don’t change policy because of rallies, Chancellor Helmut Schmidt of West Germany warned his fellow politicians that a broad range of citizens, supported by reputable scientists, are displaying “growing impatience with governments that talk while at the same time they are producing and installing ever more deadly weapons.” “Our citizens,” said Chancellor Schmidt, “frightened by the terrors of a nuclear holocaust, may soon no longer be willing to understand why negotiations concerning practical steps toward disarmament go on for years and years; why, as they see it, the idea of national prestige has a greater effect on the decisions of governments than the necessities of mutual security.” After a day in the windy light, in New York City, walking, watching, noting down, hearing, being moved, I was depressed, because the people seemed so good, and so plainly right but are so impotent, three quarters of a million people, walking together, sitting together, signing together, in hope, in the affirmation of sunlight, and that was all they could do. But this day was beautiful. The people, moved and marching, are beautiful. One should get strength not sadness from their resolve even though they know, we all know, that there is now a chasm between the potent leaders and the impotent people of the nations into which we all may fall. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 3