Letter to the editor: Nagasaki, the Golden Rule and the fight for peace

The Golden Rule sailboat in 1958. — courtesy of Veterans for Peace, The Golden Rule Project

By Ed Flaherty, Iowa City, Veterans for Peace #161

In 1958, four Quaker sailors set off in their sailboat, the Golden Rule, from California with the Marshall Islands their destination. They intended to interpose themselves into the nuclear testing being done by the U.S. government in the Marshall Islands. They made it as far as Hawaii, where they were arrested and jailed. The Golden Rule was sold.

Fast forward to 2010, when some peace activists discovered the battered Golden Rule in a salvage yard in California. They recognized the historical value of the boat, and over the next four years it was fully restored. The Golden Rule has been sailing the Pacific and the U.S. West Coast since 2015. Now, in September, the Golden Rule will be trucked to Minneapolis and will begin its journey down the Mississippi River to New Orleans. In 2023, it will complete the Great Loop and sail around Florida and up the U.S. East Coast.

The mission of the Golden Rule is to educate people about nuclear issues and what they can do to stop the possibility of nuclear war. Stops in Iowa include Dubuque, Clinton, Davenport and Muscatine. The image of the boat sailing down the Mississippi will be absolutely dreamy.

Turning the clock backward to Aug. 9, 1945, the day 70,000 people were killed in Nagasaki from an atom bomb. Forward again to today. The world is in greater peril from nuclear war than any time since the Cuban Missile Crisis. Russia and NATO are bristling with nuclear weapons, with Ukraine in between, and peace is nowhere in sight.

On this Aug. 9, Making Waves, a short film about the Golden Rule, will be presented at Old Brick (26 E Market St, Iowa City) at 6:30 p.m. Dr. Maureen McCue, an expert on nuclear issues and president of Iowa Physicians for Social Responsibility, will reflect on the history of Aug. 9, the efforts of the Golden Rule in the 1950s, and the precarious position the world is in today. John Jadryev, president of Veterans For Peace #161, will describe the voyage of the Golden Rule on the East Coast of Iowa this October.

The event is also sponsored by PEACE Iowa and the Iowa United Nations Association. A suggested donation of $25 is requested for the Golden Rule Project. For further information, contact me, Ed Flaherty, Secretary of VFP #161, at

Golden Rule Project Promo from Caneyhead Pictures on Vimeo.

This article was originally published in Little Village issue 309.