[Photos by Bruce Knopf]
all the memories of my lifetime,
Of lives of integrity
The voices of my mother
And father call to me.
soil upon which we are standing
Is sacred, hallowed ground.
These two prophets whom we remember
Are to the ages bound.
Veshel nechoshet veshel or
lechol shirayich ani kinor.
of copper, and of light
I am a violin for all your songs.]
photo of Ofra Haza to view a video
of her singing “Yerushalayim Shel Zahav.”)
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.
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
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
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
We did not employ
soldiers of our own — we used proxies.
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.
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.
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.
of thousands of civilians were imprisoned,
tortured, assassinated and disappeared in that
there were those who, throughout America,
sought valiantly to stop the madness.
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
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,
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
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
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.
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.
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.
Daniel Zwickel ben
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
Here I’m singing
“De Colores” at a UFW voter
registration rally in Pittsburg,
California, 2004. ¡Viva!
more on my father, visit his memorial Website at
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: