June 12, 1982 - Opening My Eyes to Militarization of Space
On Friday morning MB and I take the train south to New York City. I will be the speaker that evening at the Catholic Worker Maryhouse (55 East Third St) for the weekly Friday night 'clarification of thought' meeting.
The title of my talk is: June 12, 1982 & The Birth of the Space for Peace Program.
I'll tell the story about how on June 12, 1982 I was living in Orlando, Florida watching C-SPAN coverage of the nearly one million person march in New York opposing nuclear weapons. This event was part of the United Nations Special Session on Disarmament.
After C-SPAN coverage of the disarmament march concluded they switched to a right-wing conference where President Ronald Reagan's head of Star Wars (Strategic Defense Initiative) Lt. Gen. Daniel Graham was speaking. During the question period after his talk he was asked by one participant, "Gen. Graham they say there were almost a million people marching in NYC today against nuclear weapons. Aren't you worried?" Graham responded, "No, I think it's great. They are out there protesting against nuclear weapons and we are moving into space. They don't have a clue. Let them keep doing what they are doing."
I was stunned and my first thought was the cowboy movies I had watched as a kid. The phrase "Head them off at the pass" flashed through my mind. Here I was living in Central Florida, literally just minutes away from Cape Canaveral, and I indeed had no clue. I decided in that moment to start learning about the militarization of space.
It was the next year in 1983 that I became the state coordinator for the Florida Coalition for Peace & Justice. In that job I repeatedly organized protest events at the space center against military satellite launches, launches of missiles, launches of nuclear powered space probes and more. Out of those actions, along with the Colorado Springs-based group Citizens for Peace in Space, we created the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space in 1992.
So June 12, 1982 is a date I'll never forget. It will be exciting to share this story at Maryhouse in New York City.