My friend Megan Rice is dead at 91 years of age after a life time of helping others, part of it protesting nuclear weapons — weapons of mass destruction.
The account of her life can be read in this Washington Post article, a canned obit that manages to keep the truth of what went on at Y-12, the U.S. nuclear facility in Oakridge, TN, away from the eyes and minds of its readers.
I first met Megan in Nevada, the first year I went to protest the horror of drone warfare, and its destruction, not only of civilians, but of the entire social fabric of the many countries (Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, Libya, Yemen among them) drones target to this day. One of many protesters offering court support that day in 2010 at the trial of what came to be known as The Creech Fourteen, I witnessed the trial judge sentencing all fourteen resisters for time already served. Judge William Jansen had called for a recess of one month prior to that sentencing. During that time, despite the enormous pressure he must have felt from many government entities, he limited his sentencing to time served. Then he made a fatal mistake. He asked the defendants, many of whom are nationally prominent figures, all of them highly articulate people, if any of them had statements to make!
Megan Rice spoke first. We had been given a list of the fourteen, and brief biographies. From that list I knew Megan was a nun. I knew nothing more about her. But the fiery vigor by which she leaned in toward the judge and affirmed her belief that the use of drones by the U.S. government amounted to war crimes, overawed me. Who was this woman, I wondered? I had to find out.
Later that day, at lunch at the Nevada Desert Experience, Megan was one of many still sitting at table. I horned my way in next to her. I knew I had only the briefest time. I got right to the point. “I was educated by nuns.” “What Mother House?” Megan asked me. Mother House? I knew nothing of Mother House, so I said “I went to school with George Carlin.” “So did I,” said Megan, which is how we discovered we had been schoolmates two years apart at Corpus Christi elementary school, a progressive Manhattan grammar school, based on the learn-by-doing, collaborative ideas of John Dewey and the brain child of Father George B. Ford.
From that time on, Megan greeted the appearance of various of my newsletters with “How proud Father Ford would be that Corpus Christi graduated such a voice of resistance!”
I got to know more of Megan’s life when I took her to breakfast one time when she made a brief visit to Oakland. She told me of her 40 years in Africa, teaching children math and science. Meantime, morning traffic swarmed outside us.
“Slow down, slow down!” cried Megan. Over those 40 years she had done much more than teach, she had learned African time!
After much prayer, with her two compatriots, Greg Boertje-Obed (r) and Michael Walli (l), and despite her growing heart problems, all three determined to break through four of Y-12 security perimeters, and pour blood on the unre-enforced, earthquake-vulnerable brick building housing the uranium stockpile of the U.S. government as an act of civil disobedience against war, nuclear weapons, and the criminal diversion of enormous resources to support its war making technology. To quote the Post, “the United States is currently spending over $1 trillion to modernize its nuclear forces.” (A full analysis of the U.S. Nuclear Budget can be found on the Tri-Valley Cares website.) It is a government that, even despite a pandemic, still refuses either to house, feed, or offer a universal health plan to its citizens, more than half a million of whom are now homeless — many of them veterans, 17 of whom commit suicide every day. The Post says nothing of that.
Megan was 85 when she was condemned to serve three years time, part of that in Ocilla, GA, one of the United States most notorious prisons. When she was transported to the Manhattan House of Detention, her warm underwear was taken from her. She had to endure the van trip from Georgia to New York in freezing conditions, without the protection of the underwear her loving friends had joined together to provide her.
But no matter what, Megan’s great grace was her never-ending smile, and her twinkling blue eyes. No matter what, with her faith, she had so much to be thankful for.
Sign the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapaons.
Oppose war and the war making that speeds global warming,
Nix the “Blue Angels” war making publicity stunt.
Global religious leaders issue joint call for ‘radical’ climate action.
House passes amendment to cut U.S. complicity in Saudi bombing of Yemen.
Veterans for Peace organize a march and rally to protest Japan’s planned release of million of gallons of radioactive water from the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant into the Pacific.