On Father’s day, a group of families and concerned citizens gathered at L. B. Good Memorial County Park, across from the main gate of Naval Magazine Indian Island. There they had a picnic and read poetry, before a few of them chose to walk across the road to lay a memorial “Broken hearted plaque” in front of the gates of the Navy base.
Doug Milholland stated that organizing this event was important to him because “I’m a dad. And as a father, I’m supposed to be responsible for being a reasonable man. Sympathetic, encouraging and resistant when necessary. I have grandchildren. And at this point in my life, at age 70, I look at the world and Oh! I wish so much that we had taken a different path. And that I was not across from one of the world’s largest weapons transfer depots located on the bay of the small town where I live. I’m faced with the realization that millions of people have died as a result of the weapons being shipped from here.”
In fact, Naval Magazine Indian Island is the largest weapons magazine on the west coast. An average of 50 ships a year are resupplied there. Food, fresh water, and, of course, weapons.
Commander George Whitbred, who was base commander from August 2006 to August 2008 once proudly showed the Port Townsend Chamber of Commerce a map of where the weapons shipped from the island go, and described Naval Magazine Indian Island as “The World’s Costco of weapons!” Not only does the base supply US military vessels, but it also delivers weapons sold to other countries. The map that Commander Whitbred showed off included destinations all over the world.
Port Townsend resident Craig Rennebohm was concerned with the impact that the military has on the environment. “One growler plane from the naval base on Whidbey puts more carbon into the atmosphere in one hour than a whole family does driving for a year. So you could imagine what this is doing to the planet. Carbon that’s involved in the storage. In the explosions. There’s no way that we could be in balance with nature, and have this continue. We’re far outstretched. The only way we can reasonably save the planet is to stop this completely and totally, here and around the world.”
Others expressed similar sentiments. Many were concerned about the effects of nuclear radiation, and exposure to the dust that coats a battlefield when depleted uranium bombs are used. Some read poetry, including Ilya Kaminsky’s We Lived Happily During The War, which begins
“And when they bombed other people’s houses, we
but not enough, we opposed them but not
enough. I was
in my bed, around my bed America
was falling: invisible house by invisible house by invisible house.”
After the discussion, singing, and poetry, a small group crossed Flagler road. They proceeded across the blue line which marks the boundary between county land and the Navy base. At the gates they were met by a Jefferson County sheriff, and employees of Xcel Protective Services, a security company headquartered in Albuquerque. Because Xcel’s Washington State Security guard license expired on June 10th, the sheriff was the only entity with any authority to manage the event.
Seven adults and one infant presented the Broken Hearted Plaque to the officers at the gate. They then held hands, and spoke earnestly with the officers for a few minutes, before heading back towards the park.
On August 6th and 9th, from 1:00 PM to 8:00 PM, the group will be holding a Hiroshima and Nagasaki memorial in the Cotton building at Pope Marine park.