Sailboat stops in Dubuque, bringing anti-nuclear-weapon message

A sailboat's 11,000-mile journey includes a pit stop in Dubuque.
Published: Oct. 9, 2022 at 11:19 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG) - The sailboat The Golden Rule stopped in Dubuque Sunday as part of its 11,000-mile journey building support for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

The Dubuque stop is special because of its connection with the ship’s history. Organizers of The Golden Rule’s journey said Dubuque is home to at least 800 Marshall Islanders. They added that’s more than on any other stop on the boat’s route.

From 1946-1958, the United States government conducted dozens of nuclear tests in The Marshall Islands. In 1958, a group of Quaker peace activists set sail in The Golden Rule trying to stop nuclear tests on those islands.

Helen Jaccard, The Golden Rule’s project manager, said the activists made it just a little further than Honolulu, halfway to the Marshall Islands.

“They got a little ways out, possibly into international waters, and the Coast Guard Cutter caught up and brought them back and arrested the crew. They spent two months in jail,” Jaccard said.

Now, a rebuilt Golden Rule is still on the same mission as those original peace activists. The project, run by Veterans for Peace, raises awareness of nuclear dangers with the boat’s journey, as well as presentations along the way.

Irene Maun, a Dubuque health worker whose family is from the Marshall Islands, was there for the boat’s arrival.

“My mom was like, age of nine years old when they test,” Main said. “My mom was trying to get out with other kids to play around the falls. But my grandmother grabbed them and say, ‘No, don’t go out. We don’t know what’s going on.’ But other kids were already out there, playing with the fallout thinking it’s snow. They were like, running around and stick their tongues out and try to catch the fallout.”

Maun said her family members had health effects she believed were related to the tests. Her mother and two of her aunts passed away from cancer.

“All that nuclear fallout affected the people living in the islands by contaminating their waterways, contaminating their ground so they could no longer, even to this day, grow food safely or take fish from the water safely in the Marshall Islands,” Art Roche, the Dubuque organizer for The Golden Rule’s trip, said.

The Golden Rule started its journey in September, and it will continue to spread its message of opposition to nuclear arms over a 15-month trip.

However, Maun knows there is nothing that can change the past.

“I mean, there’s nothing that you can pay back for health to make it better, because this will going on and on and on, and it will affect our young generation,” Maun said.