Benjamin Spock, the grand old pediatrician of the anti-Vietnam movement, is 79 now and lives much of the time in his solar-heated home in rural Arkansas. Throughout the year, however, he can be found lecturing on such issues as a nuclear arms freeze or organizing against a local nuclear plant.
Dave Dellinger, the oldest of the Chicago Seven, lives in the small Vermont town of Peacham and has been active in organizing a protest that prevented the shipment of nuclear wastes from Canada through Vermont. He became involved in the protest through Abbie Hoffman, another '60s activist, who is in the St. Lawrence River area, about an hour away.
In the rapidly expanding anti-nuclear political movement there are many familiar faces from the '60s and '70s.
Daniel Ellsberg, who lives near Oakland, Calif., has been protesting the development of nuclear warheads at the nearby Lawrence Livermore Laboratories. The Berrigan brothers, proponents of civil disobedience, were found guilty this past July -- with nine others -- of destroying nuclear missile nose cones at a break-in at a General Electric plant in Pennsylvania. The Berrigans pleaded "not guilty by reason of government insanity."
Have they suddenly found a new cause after years of silence? Are they the base of the new anti-nuclear political movement? The answer, according to movement leaders, is no.
"I don't want it to seem that this movement is simply old retreads," said Randy Kehler, national coordinator of the Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign and a former anti-Vietman leader. "What makes this movement exciting is that there are a lot of people who are now active who have never been active before."
But there are also many people who have given their lives to political activism, and to whom the nuclear issue is not suddenly this year's issue, but one that is 30 years old.
"We didn't come out of nowhere, you know," laughed Dave McReynolds, of the War Resisters League. "A lot of us were active in the radical movement before Vietnam. There are a lot of new people, but there are also people who belonged to political formations.
"I lived through a student upsurge in '47 when there was the same fear of nuclear war. We had just used the bomb and it had an impact . . . it exploded inside people's minds, it changed the ways we thought. The fear broke out again in the '50s and now there is a third wave of fear, with totally new people who have never thought about it . . . ."
The concern about nuclear power and the environment led many into the nuclear arms freeze movement.
Kehler, who went to jail for two years as a Vietnam draft resister, became involved in local economic and nuclear issues after moving to western Massachusetts.
"I worked on agricultural revitalization, on the local economy, and on a safe energy issue -- there were two nuclear power plants in the area, and there was a move to build two more," Kehler said. "My energy -- until moving to St. Louis for the Freeze Campaign -- became very much focused within the community context. I think this is the story of a great many activists from the '60s -- they realized that they can't make great changes overnight . . . that perhaps change does have to start on a grassroots level."