San Francisco has been at the center of the peace movement for many decades. It might have started with the founding of the United Nations at the Herbst Theater in 1945, or possibly with the Summer of Love and the Berkeley Vietnam War protests. The Bay Area was also home to many military bases and a critical component of the Pacific theater victory in World War II. In the years since, most of the military presence has left the Bay, but, with the upcoming Fleet Week, there will be many military sailors on Navy ships and jets. Other sailors will present a different tack toward peace. In the next couple of weeks, the Peace Navy plans two events as a reminder to give peace a chance.
First, the Peace Navy is inviting all sailors to come sail out to The Heart of San Francisco and Peace Navy Parade on the afternoon of Sunday, October 6. The plan is to sail and gather by the Golden Gate Bridge where a skywriting plane will create the ‘Heart of San Francisco’ overhead.
Chris Hardman, founder of the Antenna Theater in Sausalito, organized the event, with the theme The Heart of San Francisco. Hardman founded the Antenna Theater in 1980 to create a wide variety of performance art. The Heart of San Francisco is unique in its connection to sailing. “If Peace and Love have a geographic epicenter anywhere on the globe it would be San Francisco,” says Hardman. “Jerry Garcia stated these thoughts: ‘What we’re thinking about is a peaceful planet; we’re not thinking about anything else. We’re not thinking about power, we’re not thinking about revolution or war. Nobody wants to hurt anybody. Nobody wants to get hurt. We would all like to live an uncluttered life, a simple life, a good life, and think about moving the whole human race ahead a step.'”
If the October 6 event doesn’t fulfill your need to sail for peace, there’s a second chance to connect your sailing with the Peace Navy on the Bay. Jan Passion, who just returned from sailing his Seawind 1000 Hokahey in the SoCal Ta-Ta, wrote in to say, “Some Bay Area sailors are organizing a ‘peace flotilla’ on Sunday, October 13, during Fleet Week. We are partnering with Code Pink and Veterans for Peace.
“We dress up our boats and remind folks that, despite the thrill and excitement of loud planes, fast planes and stunt planes, war, and preparation for war, and glorification of war are problematic on multiple levels. Such as contributing to climate crisis (the US Military is the largest single contributor to carbon emissions), and a squandering of precious resources (the US spends more on war than the next eight countries combined), which leaves insufficient money to fund basic human services (homelessness, health care, education, infrastructure, poverty, etc,).”
Fleet Week puts on a stunning display of military might around the Bay. However, the Peace Navy is there to remind us that they see an alternative course toward peace. Chris Hardman of the Antenna Theater and Jan Passion would love to see more sailboats bring the peace movement, which has been so visible for decades around the Bay, out onto the water for the next couple of weekends.