Walking the Road to Conversion

Reflection by Susan Crane

As the sentencing date approaches, I’m thinking about our walk onto the US Naval Base Bangor, and thinking about the nuclear weapons  at the Strategic Weapons Facility, Pacific.  Where do these warheads and missiles come from? Where are they made?

We know that the secondaries for the nuclear warheads are made at the Y-12 plant in Tennessee, and locally, both Bix and Jackie Hudson are both awaiting trial for walking onto the Y-12 property.

We know, from the discovery papers that the government gave us before the trial, that Lockheed Martin maintains the Reentry Bodies that carry the warheads from the D-5 missile to their target.  The day we walked into SWFPAC, Lockheed Martin said that they couldn’t work on the re-entry bodies  (RB lockheed martin)  and the cost impact was $40,000 dollars that day.

We know that the D-5 missiles that hold the warheads are made at Lockheed Martin, in California.  Consequently, the first weekend in March, the Pacific Life Community had their retreat near Sunnyvale, California, near the Lockheed Martin plant.  I felt fortunate to be able to be at that retreat.

PLC vigil and action on March 7, 2011 (photo by Jim Haber)

This Lockheed Martin complex builds, among other things,  D-5 Trident II missiles.  Not the warheads, but the actual missiles that go on the Tridents and carry the warheads.  Lockheed Martin is the biggest military contractor in the world, and in 2009, they spent $12 million on congressional lobbying and campaign contributions.   The people of the US may want nuclear disarmament, but Lockheed lobbyists push the government to increase spending on nuclear weapons.

In the early 80’s,   Dan Delaney from the Catholic Worker in Sacramento, Christine from Bartimaeus House,  Larry Ferlazzo, a Catholic Worker from Santa Rosa,  Redwood City Catholic Worker Larry Purcell  went into the building where the D-5 missiles were being made, and poured their blood on those missile  segments that would be put together to make the D-5.

Encouraged by their example, in 1995  Steve Kelly, SJ,  and I walked into the plant through an open door,  and walked around the hallways  looking in various rooms until we found the room where the D-5 missiles were being made. The missile segments were about 4 feet high, and maybe 6 feet in diameter. We poured our blood on one of these segments, and used our household hammers to begin to hammer this modern day sword into something useful for human life.

At the PLC retreat, I was sitting in a room during one of the retreat sessions. The discussion was organized in a “fish bowl” manner, where several people who were going to cross the line, and walk into the Lockheed Martin complex were in the middle, and the rest of us sat around the outside, listening to their discussion about what they were going to do, and why.

It was an interesting way to run the dialogue. And I found that all I had to do was listen, with no expectation that I’d say anything, the people on the outside of the inner circle were observers.

The visual pictures of inside the building, the images of the missile, of our hammering on it, of the worker standing there, watching us, of us putting down our hammers and kneeling in prayer, of looking up and seeing all the workers standing in a circle around us, all these images came back to me.

And I’m remembering all these things, and thinking to myself, I need to join the others and return to Lockheed Martin.  I have seen with my own eyes what is made there.

And so I joined the group in the middle of the room, and the next morning, walked with them onto the Lockheed Martin property to say…stop building these weapons that are flying ovens,  stop building these deathdealing missiles, and lets use all your good skills for building things that enhance human life.  We all know there’s a lot of work that could be done to reverse climate chaos, deal with our failing infrastructure, with world poverty and so on.

There were eleven of us who were charged with trespass: Anne Symens Bucher, Susan Crane, Ed Ehmke, Tensie Apel Hernandez,  Steve Kelly, S.J.,  Mark Kelso, Robert Majors.  Mary Jane Parrine,  Larry Purcell,  Rush Rehm and Jerry Zawada.

Larry Purcell writes   “I was arrested at Lockheed for a to stop another form of insanity.  Lockheed/Martin develops, tests and builds missiles for the Trident Nuclear Submarines.  These missiles will carry nuclear warheads 4,000 miles and have an accuracy of 300 feet.  We believe they are being produced to enable the USA to begin and end a nuclear war in a “pre-emptive first strike.” They will be used as a “shock & awe” that hopes to wipe out the so-called “enemy” completely.  However, Nuclear Weapons threaten not only other people but also all people on earth.  These weapons are so absurd at this point that a number of heavy weight politicians are finally calling for their total ABOLITION.  Colin Powell, Henry Kissinger, Sam Nun, George Schultz, Mikhail Gorbachev and others have finally realized that these weapons profit no one except the arms dealers.  Unfortunately, one thing these politicians have in common is that they are all retired—how sad.”

How clearly do we see the victims of this military spending, and the victims at the end of the weapons? The clearer that we see them, the more likely we will take a step out of our comfort zone and take a walk into one of these plants or bunker areas.  It’s time to thank the engineers and physicists for the work they have done, and ask them to now help us clean up the military bases and the earth itself. It’s time to thank the Marines and Navy personnel for the work they have done, and ask them to use all their strength, intelligence and compassion for saving lives.

We can convert our hearts, we can convert our economy, and the deathdealing weapons–but we’ll have to get up and move and take a walk.

One Response

  1. And may we each stay on this road with each other one. You give us a map. Couldn’t have been better shared. May our lives too, be our thanks to you!

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