Peace Almanac December



December 1. On this date in 1948 Costa Rica’s president declared the country’s intention to abolish its army. President Jose Figueres Ferrar announced this new national spirit in a speech that day from the nation’s military headquarters, the Cuartel Bellavista, in San Jose. In a symbolic gesture he concluded his speech by smashing a hole in the wall and handing the keys of the facility to the minister of education. Today this former military facility is a national art museum. Ferrar said that, “it is time for Costa Rica to return to her traditional position of having more teachers than soldiers.” Money that had been spent on the military, now is used, not only for education, but health care, cultural endeavors, social services, the natural environment, and a police force providing domestic security. The result is that Costa Ricans have a literacy rate of 96%, a life expectancy of 79.3 years — a world ranking even better than that of the United States — public parks and sanctuaries that protect a quarter of all land, an energy infrastructure based entirely on renewables, and is ranked number 1 by the Happy Planet Index compared to a ranking of 108 by the United States. While most countries surrounding Costa Rica continue to invest in armaments and have been involved in internal civil and cross border conflict, Costa Rica has not. It is a living example that one of the best ways to avoid war is to not prepare for one. Perhaps others of us should join the “Switzerland of Central America” and declare today as they have as “Military Abolition Day.”

December 2. On this day in 1914 Karl Liebknecht cast the only vote against war in the German parliament.

December 3. On this day in 1997 the treaty banning land mines was signed. This is a good day on which to demand that the remaining few holdout countries sign it.

December 4. Henry Ford’s Peace Ship Oscar II left Hoboken for Europe 1915 to try to stop World War.

December 5. M.L. King’s “Day of Days” Montgomery Bus Boycott began 1955.

December 6. Britain gave Transvaal self-government 1906 in national nonviolent act, after failure of force

December 7. On this day in 1682 the Great Law banned war in Pennsylvania. Also on this day in 1941 the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor just as Roosevelt’s cabinet expected.

December 8. On this day in 1941 Congresswoman Jeanette Rankin cast the only vote against U.S. entry into World War II.

December 9.

Solidarity leader Lech Walesa elected President of Poland. (1990)

December 10. This is Human Rights Day.

December 11. On this day in 1946 UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund was founded.

December 12. On this day in 1982 at Greenham Common in Berkshire, England, 30,000 women chose to “embrace the base,” encircling nine miles “countering violence with love.”

December 13. On this day in 1903 Ella Baker was born.

December 14. On this day in 1910 the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace was established “to hasten the abolition of international war, that foulest blot on civilization.”

December 15. This is Bill of Rights Day, the day in 1791 on which the U.S. Bill of Rights was ratified. This is a good day to attempt to make real, and to expand and update, some of those rights.


December 16. On this day in 1966 the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights was signed.

December 17. On this day in 2010, Mohamed Bouazizi’s self-immolation in Tunisia launched the Arab Spring. This is a good day to organize nonviolent resistance to injustice.

December 18.

Slavery abolished by 13th amendment. (1865) after other nations and DC did it without a war

December 19. On this day in 1940 singer and song writer Phil Ochs was born.

December 20. This is International Human Solidarity Day, as well as the day in 1989 that the United States attacked Panama.

December 21. On this day in 1940, two weeks shy of a year before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, China’s Minister of Finance T.V. Soong and Colonel Claire Chennault, a retired U.S. Army flier who was working for the Chinese and had been urging them to use American pilots to bomb Tokyo since at least 1937, met in U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau’s dining room to plan the firebombing of Japan. Morgenthau said he could get men released from duty in the U.S. Army Air Corps if the Chinese could pay them $1,000 per month. Soong agreed. This is a good day to consider that wars between two armed parties, like the Tango, take two.

December 22. On this day in 1847, Congressman Abraham Lincoln challenged President James Polk to provide evidence that Mexico had actually attacked the United States, rather than the other way around. Polk never did, but he had indeed launched a war and stolen half of Mexico, incorporating it into the United States.

December 23. On this day in 1947 President Truman pardoned 1,523 of 15,805 World War II draft resisters.

December 24.

Costa Rica withdraws from League of Nations to protest US Monroe Doctrine. (1924)

December 25. This is Christmas, traditionally a holiday of peace for Christians. On this day in 1776, George Washington led a surprise night crossing of the Delaware River and pre-dawn raid on unarmed hung-over-from-Christmas troops still in their underwear — a founding act of violence for the new nation. Also on this day in 1875 Jessie Wallace Hughan, founder of the War Resisters League, was born. Also on this day in 1914, soldiers on both sides of the trenches of World War I took part in a Christmas Truce. This is a good day to work for peace on earth.

December 26. On this day in 1872 Norman Angell was born.

December 27. On this day in 1993 Belgrade Women in Black held a New Year protest.

December 28. On this day in 1991 the Philippines ordered the United States out of its country. This is a good day on which to demand the closure of foreign bases.

December 29. On this day in 1890 in the Wounded Knee Massacre, the U.S. military killed 130-250 Sioux men, women, and children. This is a good day on which to marvel at how nations like Germany and Japan memorialize their worst history but the United States ignores its bloody origins and traditions. Also on this day in 1996 a Guatemalan Peace Agreement brokered by the UN ended 36 years of war.

December 30.

Tuskeegee Institute reported that 1952 was the first year in 71 years of record keeping that no one was lynched in the United States. (1952)

December 31.

new year’s resolutions time

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