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A Fond Farewell to New York's Peace Pentagon


A Fond Farewell to New York's Peace Pentagon

Frida Berrigan

Nearly 20 years ago, as I left the War Resisters League, or WRL, offices in lower Manhattan for the first time, I noticed that my fingertips were covered in black soot and ink. My hands were full of tracts and leaflets, and I had been looking through nonviolence training materials for the last hour. I tried to rub the dirt off onto my jeans, but it wouldn’t budge and later even soap and water had to work really hard.


It was a time and 339 was definitely a place. I worked there and I don't remember calling it the Peace Pentagon but the name certainly fits and these days I don't remember a lot of things from those days. Greetings sister and my condolences for your loss. We were all lucky to have had Dan in our lives.

I do remember Dave Dellinger's peace and non violence consciousness causing him to use non lethal mouse traps and well Dave being Dave and WRL being against war of any kind, His desk had a mini city of habitrail components for hamsters with a number of NYC mice who figured they had hit the lottery. I remember working under Rev. Paul Mayer who taught me how to be the person I became for the rest of my life. I remember stuffing envelopes and running to that little coffee place run by that very nice woman who had the tattooed numbers of a concentration camp survivor on her arm who was an ambassador of sorts and treated with friendly respect by the normally gruff NYC workers of all races and the normally obtuse office drones of the area. There was a kind of sixties spirit around the area. It was the Peace Pentagon and all the various groups and their visitors who embraced community wherever they were at any one moment. It was the workmen and delivery guys they talked with and asked questions. It was the posters that always managed to appear despite promises to neighbors that we wouldn't plaster the walls with pictures of revolution and rebellion and a whole lot of stuff. It was also like iit was in its own geographical place in NYC because it was set off by the avenue and not dwarfed by other buildings, which helped a bit too. It just seemed special to be going there for any reason. Lol, that hotbed of FBI angst and irritation ...lol. We were proud there...we weren't hiding ...we were exercising our constitutional rights openly!

I remember being a young man against the draft and against the war and against the people I used to call THEY and assume everyone else knew who I meant. The people we call oligarchs now...that they! I remember how much work it took us to do even simple tasks that we do now on a computer. I remember how people were dedicated because they believed. They fought the good fight simply to have fought it and have that in their lives.

339 was an amazing place that had an understated awesomeness to its run down ordinariness. It was a place where the legendary Jim Peck a truly valiant peace activist, would show up and we'd talk with a historical figure of the peace movement known only through books. Lol okay okay but he had a right to be a bit grouchy sometimes. Sometimes! We saw all manner of famous people come and go, dressing funky and looking like regular people do, so that you would have had to look twice. It was a place where surveillance was expected and assumed lol. We weren't hiding anything and they knew it which pissed them off because we weren't afraid. We were in your face and on your streets, we were marching on Washington or across the continent, we were Quakers and atheists, lawyers and Benedictine monks and radical priests and nuns, we were War Resisters and Tax Resisters, we helped whenever we could because we all had a sense of. It being for everybody and pretty much it was too . We were supportive of everybody and everything that was out there and we were the place to get in touch with if you were a new group and you wanted to make contacts or announce a local peace event somewhere. People would come in and volunteer constantly. hey do you guys need an artist, I'm on vacation next week maybe I could paint some signs? Hi, guys just writing you to let you know that the New Paltz Peace Action group is sponsoring a street theater and protest on ...,! Please add it to the WIN magazine peace calendar listings. Thanks and peace! I still have a bunch of old WIN magazines. Lol. It was what we had before we had web sites like CD.

Thanks much for commemorating an amazing place that was far more important than it looked.


Let us create multiple Pentagrams on the planet.
(All Illuminati conspirators double over and spaz out now, please)
Connected dots for the sole purpose of promoting and maintaining humanity enhancing activities.

The opposite of war is the necessity of understanding, communication and sharing.

Anyone? Bueller?