As I type this it's been many weeks since I saw this event. Since then election season has peaked and a number of "important" events have come and gone. This story has hovered in the back of my mind as something worth getting back to. Here it is, the comments somewhat abbreviated by the fact I've forgotten some of the details. Sorry about that.


Charlotte began the speaker part of the event by explaining that Gil and the descendents of the Napalm Ladies had approached her about doing an event about them. Upon learning the story she had agreed. One thing had lead to another, and this event was the result. Then she turned the microphone over to Barbie, who even fifty years ago had been a key peace activist in the local community.

Barbie talked about how they had learned at a Stanford teach in that the napalm bombs being used in Viet Nam were made locally. They decided to do something about it. The women that volunteered to make a statement were Aileen Hutchinson, Joyce McLean, and Beverly Farquharson. Lisa Kalvelage was added to the team because she had a really compelling story.

This lawyer, Reed Searle, had taken the case on a pro bono basis because Barbie asked him to. He explained that what had really swung the judge had been Lisa's testimony. She had been a young German woman in love with an American GI. They had tried to get her papers to come to the USA after his tour of duty, but the guy in the American Embassy had declined to stamp her papers "because she did nothing to stop the Nazi carnage." It took a while to get around that, but in 1966 she was a mother that remembered the experience and had to do something about the Viet Nam issue because of it. That was why she joined the group that became known as "The Napalm Ladies". As the trial went forward the matter got a lot of press all over the country. Her testimony was widely quoted. Pete Seeger even wrote a song about it.


The guy in the sweater was Douglas McLean, the husband (now widower) of Joyce McLean, who had been arrested that day. He was very clear that the women had made a deliberate decision to get arrested to dramatize their objections to a war being prosecuted by a government that wasn't listening to reason. He talked about how they had gone out there to get arrested in their Sunday best clothes. They were wearing white gloves, high heels, and everything else. It was a deliberate "We're not just hippies doing this!" statement.

Judy Adams had interviewed Lisa Kalvege for her book. I was lucky enough to get a picture of the notes she spoke from:

Judy ended her comments by saying "Now that the books are old and libraries are purging them from the stacks I'm finding them for sale on the internet." She brought some copies she got from such sources to the event and gave them to people who made donations to the Peace & Justice Center.


Gil told the story of his generation. I took a picture of his notes. Click his picture to read that.

Kathy Dunn was the daughter of Lisa Farquharson, one of the women arrested that night.

This guy was a Navy Veteran who had done duty in Viet Nam at that time. He had known then some guys who are now just names on the Viet Nam Wall. He felt honored to be among us that evening.

Reverend Nina Kalmoutis had seen the family of one of the napalm ladies every Sunday for many years at her church in Sunnyvale.

Phil & Ann closed out the event by singing that song with the line "If you've been to jail for justice, then you're a friend of mine" in its chorus. We were all singing along by the time the last chorus rolled around.


The we marched out to the exact spot where they were arrested. The current plaque there is a placeholder, we're expecting a more permanent memorial thing to go in soon enough. The area is a nature sanctuary. There are some old industrial looking buildings falling down behind where I stood to take this picture, but it's clearly not a napalm factory right now. More like the ass end of nowhere.


This was the exact sign Kathie's mother was busted with, fifty years earlier. I gather it's spent a lot of the intervening time as a garage ornament.

Click here to read a longer article that covers the story.