On January 12, 1961, early in the San Francisco to Moscow Walk for Peace (1960-1961), the core team of walkers was passing through Casa Grande, Arizona when they were joined by a local older couple, Barbara and John Beecher. A day earlier, John Beecher had invited one of the walkers, Jerry Wheeler, to speak at two of his classes at the State University of Arizona. The next evening, when John and Barbara joined the walkers and the team was stopped by a radio reporter to get their stories, John shocked everyone by announcing that he was resigning from his professorship to join the walk to Moscow.
Overview of the Walk: http://www.voluntownpeacetrust.org/a-peace-of-history-blog/san-francisco-to-moscow-walk-for-peace
Organizing the Walk: http://www.voluntownpeacetrust.org/a-peace-of-history-blog/organizing-the-san-francisco-to-moscow-walk-for-peace-1960-1961
Excerpts from the first month of the Walk: http://www.voluntownpeacetrust.org/a-peace-of-history-blog/excerpted-account-of-the-san-francisco-to-moscow-walk-pt-1
Challenges on the Walk: http://www.voluntownpeacetrust.org/a-peace-of-history-blog/challenges-on-the-san-francisco-to-moscow-walk-for-peace-1960-1961
Excerpts from Walkers’ Reports:
In his statement, John Beecher recounted how he fought in WWII initially believing that the effort would “usher in the epoch of universal peace,” and how his first-hand experiences of war ultimately convinced him that only nonviolent action could bring in the new era. He also points to a rich family heritage of American heroes of justice that inspired him: including Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and Henry Ward Beecher, an abolitionist pastor who helped convince Great Britain and other European powers from supporting the Confederacy.
John Beecher concludes his statement with a call addressed to his peers in the intellectual and professional classes; after all, who would be better to address a group of people than one of their own? But his statement also reminds us that all of us with loved ones have a stake in the issue of nuclear arms proliferation: as he makes clear near the end, if it weren’t for his children and grandchildren, “hostages to fortune,” he could very well “dodge the compelling issue of the day.” But knowing how threatened his loved ones were by nuclear war, and how the threat was only increasing with time, John Beecher could no longer go on with his life ignoring the issue. It was time to take action.
(Click the image below to download the PDF version of the original newsletter clipping)
To celebrate the one-year year anniversary of the UN’s Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, the CT Committee on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons has organized a demonstration in New London, CT for Friday, January 21, 2:45-4:00pm. Folks will line up along Howard St with signs and banners provided by the Committee. For more information including how to participate, please get in touch with us on Facebook at facebook.com/voluntownpeacetrust or email us at email@example.com
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Beecher, John. “John Beecher’s Statement and Call.” Polaris Action Bulletin. 30 January 1961 (Special Bulletin), page 3.
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