Date: April 12, 1979
Article: Student participates in protest
Author: Jenny Jordan
(Ed. Note: In the following article Jenny Jordan writes her impressions of an anti-nuke demonstration that she attended in Harrisburg, Sunday, April 8.)
Last Sunday, several of us went into Harrisburg for the anti-nuke demonstration, protesting the proposed reopening of the Three Mile Island Reactor plant. It was a strange event, both disappointing and refreshing.
When we got into Harrisburg, I said, “Let’s be sure to park far enough away so we don’t get caught in any traffic mess.” As it turned out, we could probably have parked right in front of the Capitol steps.
There were between one and two thousand people there, which I found a surprisingly small turn-out. After all, 3000 people showed up for a rally in Groton, Connecticut and 5000 showed up for one in San Fransico. In Germany demonstrators yelled, “We all live in Pennsylvania,” yet not too many Pennsylvanians seem upset about the events which captured the concern of the rest of the world. Even though they are the closest to the events, indeed, were caught in the middle of them, the people of central Pennsylvania do not seem too concerned about them.
The only answer I can come up with to explain this attitude, is “out of sight , out of mind.” Now that the worst is over and we are no longer headlines, people would just as soon forget Three Mile Island and get back to normal.
One other feature about the rally was strange – it was hard not to feel as though you were at a sixties revival. It was almost eerie the way the demonstration started out with “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” and was interspersed with other protest songs. Other anti-Vietnam slogans were slightly changed and converted to use as anti-nuke slogans.
The speakers included a diverse group: organizers of the Three Mile Island Alert, elected officials, a high school English teacher, and a physician were among them. While many of the speakers were very good, making valid points and clarifying others, they did not seem to be making use of the crowd to its fullest potential. It was essentially a very quiet group, almost a passive group.
But in spite of all this, the Harrisburg demonstration had its own surprises. The most pleasant one was the wide variety of ages represented, from babies to people in their sixties. Little kids were mixing with students in blue jeans, blue collar workers and nuns alike were carrying protest signs. Even the eleven and twelve year olds were listening to what was being said and expressing opinions. Entire families came. The organizers and workers themselves included teenagers as well as middle aged housewives. If nothing else, the gathering proved that the issues at hand concerned not just one limited group of people, but everyone.