Wednesday, August 7, 2013

August 5-6th Faith and Resistance Retreat/Witness to commemorate the U.S. nuclear bombing of Hiroshima

photo by Ted Majdosz--Hiroshima survivor, Setsuko Thurlow, speaking outside the Udvar Hazy Museum where the Enola Gay Warplane is Displayed Dear Friends, What follows is a brief report of the August 5-6th Faith and Resistance Retreat/Witness to commemorate the U.S. nuclear bombing of Hiroshima that was organized by Jonah House and Dorothy Day Catholic Worker (DDCW). Here's the link to photos of the Enola Gay witness taken by Ted Majdosz.!i=2682997752&k=HkdsnpQ On the evening of August 5, over a dozen people gathered at DDCW for an evening of reflection and action planning. A compelling reflection, prepared by Rosemary Thompson, (Rosemary was not present to share this as she was caring for her Mom who had a sudden stroke) was offered about the theme of the retreat: remembering the pain of Hiroshima of Nagasaki, repenting the sin of the use of nuclear weapons against the Japanese and reclaiming the future for peace. As this year marks the 50th anniversary of President John Kennedy's visionary speech on peace and disarmament at American University, special emphasis was given to this speech which occurred nine months after the Cuban Missile Crisis and five months before he was was assassinated (read JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters, by Jim Douglass regarding why Kennedy was assassinated and who was really behind it). After listening to Kennedy's speech, we then viewed the horrific graphic footage of the immediate aftermath of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, which were withheld from the public for some twenty years following the bombings. On August 6, from 7:00 - 8:00 a.m., about twenty people from the Atlantic Life Community and the War Resisters League, following a procession from Army-Navy Drive, witnessed outside the Pentagon south metro entrance in the police designated fenced off protest area. Holding banners as well as photos of the victims and devastation of Hiroshima, many also wore sackcloth and ashes, ancient biblical symbols of repentance. The witness included a Gospel reading about the feast of the Transfiguration, the reading of a poem, Shadow on the Rock," by Dan Berrigan, SJ, hearing an excerpt of President Kennedy's peace and disarmament speech, a period of silence with prayerful chanting and drumming by Helen Schietinger, and the singing of "I Come and Stand." This was followed by Bill Frankel Streit and Art Laffin reading a statement (see below). Bill and Art (both Catholic Workers) and Nancy Gowen (grandmother and peace activist) then proceded to walk out to the sidewalk where many Pentagon employees and military were filing into the building, knelt in prayer and were ordered by Pentagon police to return to the designated protest area. After the second police warning to leave, we prayed the Lord's Paryer and were subsequenty arrested. We were processed and released several hours later. We were charged with disobeying a lawful order and have an October 4 trial date. At 12 Noon, about thirty people gathered at the Udvar Hazy museum to conduct a silent prayerful witness in front of the Enola Gay warplane which dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. As we approached this enshrined idol of death, Smithsonian police were already stationed in front of and around it. As soon as our vigil began and we displayed photos of the victims, we were ordered to leave or be arrested. After the second warning Liz McAlister read Dan's poem, Shadow on the Rock. We then began to sing as we slowly processed out of the museum accompanied by numerous police. We were all threatened with arrest numerous times for holding photos and singing. Once we were finally outside the police refused to let us have a reflection circle near the museum's entrance and threatened us with arrest yet again. So we walked to an empty parking area near where our cars were and held a closing circle. We were honored to have with us Setsuko Thurlow, an A-Bomb survivor (hibakusha) who now lives in Toronto, who shared her experience of what it was like as a thirteen year old to live through what she called an "indiscriminate massacre" and "planned mass murder." During her moving and inspiring reflection, she referred to the Enola Gay warplane as a "blasphemy." As we concluded our circle, we shared with her the apology we made to the Japanese people during our Pentagon witness and expressed to her personally how sorry we were for what the U.S. did to the Japanese people. She most graciously thanked us and commended us for our work. We will continue our Faith and Resistance Retreat witness on August 9, the anniversary of the U.S. nuclear bombing of Nagasaki, at the White House with a noon-time witness. For those who are local please join us. With love and gratitude, Art photo by Ted Majdosz-- Witness in front of the Enola Gay Statement Offered Before Pentagon Arrests As people of faith we believe it's a sin to build a nuclear weapon. We decry the existence and continued possession and threatened use of these and other idolatrous and murderous weapons. We apologize to the people of Japan for our country's atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki 68 years ago, and ask forgiveness for these atrocities and the ongoing suffering of those affected by nuclear radiation. We repent for the continued proliferation of nuclear weapons at the expense of unmet human needs. Further, we repent for the over 50 times the US has threatened to use nuclear weapons since the first atomic bombings. We call for the closing of all U.S. nuclear weapons facilities and for the disarmament and abolition of all nuclear weapons and all weapons of terror, including killer drones. We also call for an end to the construction of a new US-backed naval base on Jeju Island in S. Korea that will serve as a US military outpost to threaten and contain China. We join with the imprisoned Transform Now Plowshares, the jailed Jeju Island resisters, the Guantanamo hunger strikers, and all peace and justice makers everywhere in calling for a world without weapons, oppression, torture and war, where all the swords of our time are transformed into plowshares. We make this plea in the name of all victims of our warmaking empire, from Iraq and Afghanistan to Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere. ##

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