[Photos by Bruce Knopf]               

    Of all the memories of my lifetime,
    Of lives of integrity
    The voices of my mother
    And father call to me.

    The soil upon which we are standing
    Is sacred, hallowed ground.
    These two prophets whom we remember
    Are to the ages bound.

      Yerushalayim shel zahav
      Veshel nechoshet veshel or
      Halo lechol shirayich ani kinor.

      [Jerusalem of gold,  of copper, and of light
      Behold I am a violin for all your songs.]

(Click on photo of Ofra Haza to view a video
of her singing “Yerushalayim Shel Zahav.”)

Today, Wednesday, February 4, 2009, just a day before the 28th anniversary of my coming to the Bay Area, the Tree of Peace was transplanted to its new home, on the west side of our new church sanctuary and overlooking the Creek, and nourished by the ashes of my mother and father, Jean and Abraham.  Thanks to Mike, Wes, John & Lois, for helping to honor them in this most special manner.

Here is a slide show of photos taken by my friend, Mike (he'll be the one flashing the peace sign.) Enjoy!

[Photos © 2009 by Michael E. Kerr]

Last night (Wednesday, Feb. 4) I sat, warmly bundled up, in a chair once used by Brian Willson, in candlelight communion with the Tree and the shades of my folks, thinking Thoughts and enjoying the vista of "the olive tree that stands in silence upon the hills of time."

Shalom, salaam, shanti, namaste,


The mid- to late 80s were a relatively somnambulant time, as far as most Americans were concerned. For the people of Central America, however, it was Vietnam.
We did not employ soldiers of our own — we used proxies.
In Nicaragua, they were the Contras; in El Salvador, they were D’Aubisson’s death squads and the Salvadoran army itself; in Honduras, it was the notorious Batallón 316.
I say “proxy” because we funded and armed them and provided munitions, transshipped through the Naval Weapons Station, Concord. Among the munitions were phosphorous bombs, incendiary ordinance which, upon contact with the skin, burns inward until it hits bone — essentially the napalm of the 80s.

As we all know, war means killing civilians. It always has, always will. The purpose of those wars was to “stop Communism”. For that noble cause, nuns, priests, nurses, doctors, teachers were targeted. And not just in those three countries. Our Ambassador to Honduras, now Deputy Secretary of State, John Negroponte, “ran” a campaign of terror throughout Central America.

Tens of thousands of civilians were imprisoned, tortured, assassinated and disappeared in that holocaust.

But there were those who, throughout America, sought valiantly to stop the madness.
If there was one single place, one touchstone commemorating that effort, it was the railroad tracks in front of the Weapons Station where Vietnam Army intelligence veteran S. Brian Willson was run over by a munitions train, losing both his legs, in protest of those wars. It became known throughout the world, attracting the likes of actor Martin Sheen, who was making a movie in Germany when he heard of the occurrence, and arranged to visit the site, and Joan Baez and Holly Near, who sang there.

The section of track is still there, though unmarked. What is marked is a tree which my father planted next to the chapel on the base, August 17, 1992, a cutting from the olive tree in our front yard. In August of 1993 the“Tree of Peace” was dedicated to my father, with base Commander Richard Owens of the Naval Station in attendance, nine flowers planted around it, one for each decade of my father’s life.

WAR WEARY the front page of the Oakland (California) Tribune proclaimed, January 17, 1992, the first anniversary of the Gulf War
[Photo (& photo above to the left) by Gary Reyes, used by permission.]

Throughout history America has strayed from its path. Yet the promise of America has always been one of liberty, of justice, of compassion for our brothers and sisters. We mobilize hundreds to save the life of a few, or even just one. We reach out when tragedy strikes another part of the world. Americans willingly lay down their lives to protect, or in service of others, even ones in other lands.

To wage a war of any kind, but especially a war of terror, against another has always been antithetical to the values of America, and so when we act so egregiously towards a whole region of other countries, it behooves us to commemorate that act, so that we may, eventually, learn to no longer tolerate such a crime against humanity.

There can be a no more fitting monument to the cause of peace in that turbulent time than the Tree of Peace, and so it deserves to be preserved, in memory of so many lives destroyed, and in the hope of a future of peace with justice.

Respectfully submitted,

Daniel Zwickel ben Avrám MacJean
Pittsburg, Sacramento Delta Bio-region,
California, Friday, September 19, 2008

A song of the time, Lágrimas, of six Jesuit Priests, their co-worker and her daughter, slain because Fr. Ignacio Ellacuría had the effrontery to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with his God.

Or visit the dedicated webpage, www.peacehost.net/lagrimas.htm

Here I’m singing “De Colores” at a UFW voter registration rally in Pittsburg, California, 2004.  ¡Viva!

For more on my father, visit his memorial Website at Prophet Abraham;
To read about my mother, visit Abuela Jean;
Read more about John Negroponte;
Apologies to the Picasso estate for borrowing his ‘dove’. I just couldn’t resist it.
And, of course, you may e-mail me: