It’s not easy to celebrate one’s 25th wedding anniversary in Palisades Park, late in the afternoon, with traffic, ambulance sirens, a strong ocean breeze, and a film shoot in progress nearby.
But Jerry and Marissa Rubin were not to be thwarted by the elements or the urban ambience. They had celebrated their nuptials in this same park in 1983. And here, on June 12, 2008, they gathered with friends, well-wishers, and fellow activists to reaffirm their vows and keep the faith as political activists concerned with peace and the environment.
Everyone stood in a circle, surrounding a sign that read “Linking Personal Commitment and Love with Global Communication and Peace.” It was a replica of a sign (originally 8 feet in length) that Marissa had painted for the wedding in 1983.
“Relax the thoughts in your head and return with us to 25 years ago on this spot,” said Marissa, as she led the celebrants in a warm-up stretching and breathing exercise.
Singer-songwriter Stephen Longfellow Fiske, who had performed at the wedding, was back for this event – but as he was hoarse, he did not sing, but rather recited his peace activist’s take on the National Anthem: “Oh say can we see/by the light in us all.”
“Marissa and I were married here on June 12, exactly 25 years ago,” said Jerry. “Blaise Bonpane married us – he was a missionary in South America. He can’t be here today, but he sends his wishes. It was an honor that Blaise officiated at our activist-style peace wedding.”
Los Angeles City Councilmember Bill Rosendahl came by to comment that it was “an honor and a privilege to be here with this amazing couple” who have “added more energy to the cause of peace on the earth.” He also read a brief proclamation in honor of the anniversary.
Then the Rubins renewed their vows.
“Do you, Jerry/Marissa take me to be your husband/wife and peace partner?”
And they held up signs (ie: protest picket-style signs) that read “I Still Do.”
Jerry spoke of the tree that the couple was standing under. It was the Children’s Tree of Life, planted on Earth Day 1984, with the support of City Councilmember Ken Edwards, as a symbol of peace. It was planted close to the cannon at Ocean and Colorado Avenues, with the hope that it might someday overshadow the cannon. As there is another cannon a few yards to the north, Jerry expressed the need for another tree to be planted near that one.
Because of Jerry Rubin’s involvement with the Treesavers movement, it was inevitable that the ceremony would segue into the topic of trees. Rosendahl, in his brief address, had cited the felling of the 4th and 2nd Street ficus trees as “symbolic” of the strife that has been happening in the world. Some members of Treesavers were in attendance, and Jerry reminded them of the continuing need to fight for the trees. And a large walking and talking Tree appeared as Marissa was reading a poem she had written for the anniversary. (The tree was actually biologist Roy van de Hoek of the Ballona Institute. Jerry Rubin had been involved in the struggle to save the Ballona Wetlands.)
Well-wishers gave cards and presents and spoke of their activist dreams and good wishes for Jerry and Marissa. Jerry’s brother Marty recalled that when Jerry and Marissa met (at the dance studio Dance Home on Santa Monica Boulevard), he had felt a vibe that “they might be good together.”
By 7 p.m., the ocean fog had moved in and it was chilly. But many of the celebrants lingered with the Rubins, talking about activism, and sharing in the warmth.