Mother's Day rally includes resistance pledge

BATH, Maine - Walking slowly over the Kennebec River Bridge on May 12, 300 peace activists looked down on four nuclear-armed destroyers under construction for the U.S. Navy at the Bath Iron Works here. The skies threatened rain, drums sounded and solidarity honks were heard from passing cars.

This Mother's Day march for peace was the high point for an emerging anti-war movement in Maine. Ever since Sept. 11, peace vigils have occurred weekly throughout the state. A coalition of pacifists, feminists, fighters for social justice and protesters against other wars brought strength and determination to the event that will not soon be forgotten.

Signs said, 'The war on terrorism ignores the cause of terrorism' and demanded, 'No taxation to fund war escalation!'

State Senator Beth Edmonds of Freeport spoke to the gathering. After leading the group in song, she said the war in the Middle East threatens to cost 60 times more each year than is spent on energy conservation and costs $60 billion annually, compared to the total Maine budget of only $5 billion.

Jack Bussell, representing Veterans for Peace, said the stock price of General Dynamics, owner of Bath Iron Works, has risen 25 percent since Sept. 11.

Karen Wainberg, a member of Peace Action Maine, evoked the memory of reformer and writer Julia Ward Howe, the founder of Mother's Day in the United States, who over a century ago launched a woman's peace crusade. Wainberg read from Howe's Mother's Day Proclamation, 'Arise, then, women of this day... Our husbands shall not come to us reeking with carnage. From the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with our own. It says, 'Disarm, Disarm'. The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.'

With rain beginning, the assembled Mother's Day celebrants intoned a 'Pledge of Resistance,' stating, 'Not in our name will you invade countries, bomb civilians, kill more children... Not in our name will you erode the very freedoms that you have claimed that we fight for... Not in our mouths will fear silence us. We pledge resistance ... We pledge to make common cause with the people of the world, to bring about freedom, justice, and peace. Another world is possible, and we pledge to make it real.'

The author can be reached at pww@pww.org