Historic boat will visit Milwaukee to promote nuclear disarmament

The Golden Rule, a storied sailboat that sparked a movement that ended atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons, will visit Milwaukee over Labor Day weekend as it nears the end of a 13-month, 11,000-mile voyage to inform and educate the public about the dangers of nuclear weapons proliferation.

The 35-foot wooden sailboat will tie up at Discovery World for the first day, Friday, Sept. 1, for a welcoming news conference with Mayor Cavalier Johnson and others. It will be in a slip at Lakeshore State Park Sept. 2-4. The visit is sponsored by Veterans For Peace and 15 peace, religious and community organizations.

Public viewing and boat tours will be offered every afternoon: At Discovery World on Friday, Sept. 1, from 12-4pm; and at Lakeshore State Park Sept. 2-4, with tours from 2-5pm on Saturday, 1-4pm on Sunday and 1-5pm on Monday, Labor Day.

On Saturday, Sept, 2, from 2 to 5pm: a party in the park will feature music by Flagship Wisconsin, with folksingers David HB Drake, Rick Fitzgerald, John Higgins and Craig Siemsen; and the Raging Grannies.

The Golden Rule is the original peace boat that sparked a movement 65 years ago that resulted in the international treaty to ban nuclear weapons testing in the atmosphere, in space, and underwater.

Now, it is sailing to promote ratification of the United Nations treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons, which has been signed by 122 nations — but not the US or any other nuclear powers — and, more broadly, to educate the public about the threat posed by nuclear weapons proliferation.

The Golden Rule began its current trip on the Great Loop route in September 2022 on the Mississippi River in Minnesota, sailing to the Gulf, visiting Cuba for 10 days, and circling the south and east coasts before reaching the Great Lakes this summer. It has held 350 events in 92 cities to date, generating favorable media coverage and a warm welcome everywhere it docks.

In 1958 a crew of Quakers sailed the Golden Rule from Hawaii towards the Marshall Islands, intending to protest and interfere with atmospheric nuclear weapons tests. That voyage was halted by the government and the crew arrested. This highly publicized mission focused international attention and caused a public outcry about the radiation blowing around the world, which was even found in Wisconsin milk. President Kennedy signed the Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, with Great Britain and the Soviet Union, in 1963. The Golden Rule action inspired many peacemakers and peace ships that followed, including Greenpeace.

Golden Rule, in private ownership, had sunk and was in such bad condition a California shipyard was going to burn the boat. But Veterans For Peace (VFP) and others intervened, spent five years restoring her to her former beauty, and re-launched Golden Rule in 2015 as a national VFP project. It has since sailed up and down the Pacific coast, spent nearly two years in Hawaii, and is now on the Great Loop tour that will end in Chicago in September.

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