Guardians of Peace and Planet will hold a demonstration against the F-35s Sunday, Aug. 4, 4 to 6 p.m. at the corner of Airport Drive and Patrick Street in South Burlington. 

Billed as “a fun, peaceful and family-friendly demonstration opposing the F-35s scheduled to come to the Burlington International Airport this fall,” the event is supported and sponsored by the Burlington branch of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Stop the F-35s/Save our Skies, People for Peace and Security, Vermont Veterans for Peace, Citizens Against Nuclear Bombers in Vermont, the Peace & Justice Center and Physicians for Social Responsibility.

“To challenge the devastating effects of the possible basing of the F-35s, this resistance event will be educational, fun and peaceful and is only one of many events planned by this new coalition of organizations that are working together to make a difference,” said Marguerite Adelman, event coordinator, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. “We are mindful that our protest will be less than a mile from a local school where children will experience learning and developmental impacts from F-35 noise pollution. 

“We want people raising children in Vermont to know it’s not too late to take a stand against nuclear proliferation and the deeply harmful impacts of war machinery in our region. This event is also being held near the anniversary of the atomic bombs being dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Our message is: never again. Vermont will have no part in launching or being targeted in the event of a nuclear war.”

According to organizers, many at the demonstration will be dressed as “alternative superheroes or guardians” bearing recycled cardboard shields with their personal messages for peace and planet.

Adelman added, “The 45-minute program will feature anti-nuclear messages, along with speakers addressing the health impacts of F-35s, from noise pollution to other contaminants.”

Speakers include South Burlington City Councilor Meaghan Emery, who is an associate professor at the University of Vermont; Maho Takahashi, a member of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom who works for the Japanese-based organization Peace Boat; and James Ehlers, executive director of Lake Champlain International. 

“The inclusion of the F-35 in the U.S. ‘nuclear triad’ (which also includes nuclear submarines and land-based ballistic missiles) based on President Trump’s decision to expand the nation’s nuclear arsenal concerns me greatly,” Emery said. “The Air Guard’s mission with the F-16s did not fall under the same category in our national defense strategy, and although I have not spoken out at a public event before, I feel that now is the time for me to do so. Our small state — and within it our region and city — is being tasked with carrying an unacceptable burden. This is a small commercial airport nestled within civilian communities, not an Air Force base, not an isolated desert. After losing nearly 200 single-family homes on quarter-acre lots, which was a hit to our middle class (working folks, seniors, families with children), the basing of nuclear weapons in our city is an additional sacrifice that our City Council is not willing to accept. We say ‘no’ to nuclear war and ‘no’ to the suggestion that nuclear weapons will be located here. I have a family, with a daughter in Chamberlin School along with over 200 other children, neighbors, colleagues, and future generations of Vermonters that I wish to represent at the event on Aug. 4.”

The demonstration includes puppets from Bread and Puppet Theater and social justice musician Tom Neilson, a two-time winner of Song of the Year from the Social Action Independent Musicians Awards. Neilson was nominated in 2015 for the United Nations Nelson Mandela Award for lifetime achievement in peace and justice. 

“At this event, we will be honoring the peace makers and all those who work for economic justice, people, and the planet,” said Adelman. “We believe it is not too late to stop the F-35s from coming to Vermont.”

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