Michael KreponGiving Thanks for Heroic Efforts

Verse of the week:

“I understand the large hearts of heroes,
The courage of present times and all times,
How the skipper saw the crowded and rudderless wreck of the steam-ship,
and Death chasing it up and down the storm,
How he knuckled tight and gave not back an inch, and was faithful
of days and faithful of nights,
And chalk’d in large letters on a board, Be of good cheer,
we will not desert you;
How he follow’d with them and tack’d with them three days
and would not give it up,
How he saved the company at last” – Walt Whitman, “Song of Myself,” Leaves of Grass

Dear Readers:
 Let us set foot in Whitman’s stream of consciousness, going with the flow, returning to his themes of caregiving amidst great distress, all the while staying alive to nature’s beauty. No 19th Century poet remains more current.

Anyone who has spent time in a hospital is aware that angels work there, overworked angels. Also cleaning staff, who protect patients from a multitude of germs. And skilled medical staff, also overworked. I owe my life to them, several times over. Please join me in giving thanks to the caregivers among us. 

What if we were to extend the metaphor of caregiving to include those whose concerns for public health and safety focused on ending nuclear testing, first in the atmosphere and then elsewhere? We have them to thank, as well. 

So, thank you, Linus Pauling, a druggist’s son, Nobel Laureate (twice) who debated Edward Teller about the dangers of atmospheric testing, and in so doing caught J. Edgar Hoover’s attention.

Thanks to the multitudes who marched, the mothers, ranchers, farmers, and city folk.

Prayers to the victims of nuclear testing, some still among us.

Thank you, Ike, for getting the ball rolling. Kudos to Arthur Dean, helped by James Goodby, for the first drafts of comprehensive and partial test ban treaties with the help of George Bunn, Alan Neidle, Thomas Pickering and the Pentagon’s General Counsel, John McNaughton.

Thank you, Hubert Humphrey, happy warrior, for leading us into battle.
Thank you, JFK, for your commencement address at American University. And thanks to you, John McCloy, for a purpose built ACDA. Thank you Butch Fisher for those Saturday morning planning sessions with George Bunn, Betty Goetz, Bob Rochlin, and Larry Weiler.

Thank you, Averill Harriman, Carl Kaysen, John McNaughton, William Tyler and Franklin Long for bringing a Limited Test Ban Treaty back from Moscow. Adrian Fisher was Harriman’s second in command.

Thank you, Jimmy Carter, for adding the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty to your to do list. Thank you, Paul Warnke, carrying slings and arrows, trying to accomplish a treaty that no one wanted more than you, and most wanted quite a bit less. Thank you, Herb York, for trying your hand but coming up with the same result.

Thank you, Mark Hatfield, James Exon and George Mitchell for imposing a legislative moratorium on nuclear testing in 1992.

Thank you, Tom Graham and Hazel O’Leary for keeping this moratorium going.

Thank you Bill Clinton for accomplishing what eluded Jimmy Carter. Thank you, Steve Ledogar, Jaap Ramaker and other negotiators and back-stoppers, maligned but indispensable. Thank you Ed Ifft, Pierce Corden, Kathy Crittenberger, Jenifer Mackby and so many others. It wasn’t pretty, but it was the best available outcome.

Thank you, seismologists for rising to the task, and thanks to you, Lynn Sykes, Paul Richards and others who rebutted false claims of Soviet noncompliance. 

Thank you Sid Drell, for being so immense.

Thank you for staying on watch, Vienna, for your dedication and patience.

Thank you stockpile stewards, so that there is no need to test.

And thank you, my colleagues, for keeping the faith. We haven’t crossed the finish line, but the norm against testing is strong, and the only argument that treaty opponents have left is the mere whisper of tests. Supporters of the CTBT don’t whisper.


  1. Michael Krepon (History)

    from SSavine:
    AND, Thank YOU!

  2. Michael Krepon (History)

    Egregious omission department:
    Whitman would add material to Leaves of Grass in subsequent editions.
    I have added a line giving thanks to the stockpile stewards who play a crucial role in maintaining the moratorium on nuclear testing.
    An embarrassing omission.

  3. buttonwillow88 (History)

    Thank you, Michael, for the shout out to these heroes. Rachel York