March 9, 2008

The Devil Crossed the Road

Coincidentally, just published the following essay about one of our government's "guinea pigs:
Honoring Two Activist Parents
By Vincent L. Guarisco, March 6, 2008
A Son’s Tribute to his parents' many accomplishments in life
[...] Both Mary and Anthony Guarisco unselfishly devoted most of their lives to many facets of social activism, always striving to better our society for a kinder, more caring and peaceful prosperity.
In part, this essay is a small tribute to honor their legacy, their lifetime achievements and hard work. But it is also a heartfelt plea for you to see the higher mission in life by not just taking, but giving back that which we all at times take for granted.
This is the essence of what they stood for.
Anthony Guarisco enlisted in the Navy in 1944, serving one year of WWII in the Pacific and the early days of the Korean War. It changed his life forever.
In 1947, Anthony was attached to the 32nd Destroyer Division and conducted Special Forces combat operations from Fusan, Korea, to the Manchurian border, aboard the USS Buckley, DD808.
But before his Korean experience, the full impact of nuclear weapons became part of his big picture at Bikini Atoll in 1946 in 'Operation Crossroads.'
For those of you not familiar with this hideous event, Operation Crossroads was a series of two 23-kiloton plutonium atomic bomb tests in which the U.S. government used 42,000 of its own uniformed citizens as guinea pigs.
[...] My father had been two to four miles away from ground zero on LST388. Within a few days, post-Baker, he experienced what is now recognized as a radiation sickness. He remained in the lagoon 67 days within a mile of the epicenter of both explosions.
Upon his return to Pearl Harbor, my father was ordered aboard the hospital ship USS Haven for examination, evaluation and treatment for skin rashes, and severe symptoms similar to influenza.
It’s worthy to note, LST388 was too 'hot' with radiation to enter port so, after transferring the men, a decision was made to sink the ship outside of Hawaii.
In 1948, he entered Hines VA Hospital in Maywood, IL, with the same symptoms plus a swelling resembling elephantiasis from the knees down.
[...] After treatment, therapy and release, his spine began to progressively fuse from Ankylosing Spondylitis and persisting urological disorders. In 1979, my father helped formulate the National Association of Atomic Veterans (NAAV) as an organization. Later, he became national research director.
[...] Working with then Illinois congressman Paul Simon, they participated in the original writing of PL9772: legislation that allowed atomic veterans to enter any VA hospital for treatment.
Anthony and Mary Guarisco established outreach to atomic veterans in Canada, Britain, and Australia and they founded the International Alliance of Atomic Veterans (IAAV with AAV) in the United States.
Working with Greenpeace in 1984, they organized a cross-country tour for veterans, widows and children to many major cities, which culminated with joining other radiation victims worldwide.
The action drew national attention to the Nevada Test Site and the beginning of major opposition to all atomic testing. In 1986, IAAV made contact with the Soviet War Veterans Committee in Moscow and my father returned several times, afterwards.
Mary accompanied Anthony, who testified numerous times in the U.S. Congress and the parliaments of Canada and Great Britain.
In fact, California Sen. Alan Cranston, then chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, recognized that AAV was 'extremely instrumental' in the groundbreaking 1988 legislation that granted presumption of cause-effect to all atomic veterans.
[...] Despite the paralysis in my father’s spine, my parents performed Direct Actions against continued nuclear weapons testing and production, and he was arrested at the Nevada Test Site on three separate occasions.
Please read more about this remarkable family at:
Vincent L. Guarisco is a freelance writer from Bullhead City, Arizona., a contributing writer for many Web sites, and a lifetime founding member of the Alliance of Atomic Veterans. Reprint permission is given as long as article content is not altered or changed and credit is given to the author. Replies welcomed at:

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