Holy Innocents Commemoration Witness at the Pentagon

Dear Friends,

Early this morning from 7-8 AM, fourteen peacemakers from the DMV area held a nonviolent witness at the Pentagon, the center of warmaking on the planet,  to commemorate the feast of the Massacre of the Holy Innocents–-past and present. Yesterday,  President Biden signed the House and Senate approved NDAA 2022 military spending bill of $768 billion. This exorbitant expenditure is an abomination– an affront to God and a crime against the poor! see: here 

We carried with us the spirit of many friends from the Atlantic and Southern Life communities and elsewhere who ordinarily would be present for this witness, but were not able to travel due to the pandemic. The witness was organized by the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker.  

We gathered for our witness in the “designated protest area” on the southeast side of the Pentagon displaying signs and banners as civilian workers and soldiers passed by. Luci Murphy led us in singing several opening songs: Down by the Riverside,  Bring Our Soldiers Home (Tune: Hark the Herald Angels Sing) by Joelee Adlerblum–Revised 3/2014) and an alternative version of O Come All Ye Faithful, copyright: Just Peace UK. Watch here.

I offered a brief statement of purpose for the witness which was followed by Rev. Chuck Booker reading a Gospel account of the massacre of the innocents, (Mt. 2:13-18). We then sang the “Coventry Carol” and Frank Panopolous read a poem by Sr. Anne Montgomery (Presente!): “Feast of the Holy Innocents-1991-In Memoriam: Mass Graves.” (see below) The “Cry of Ramah” was then sung by all, followed by Paul Magno and Merwyn and Kirstin DeMello reading a declaration: “Redeem the Times.” (see below) In remembering the massacre of the innocents today, the names were read of seven children of the Ahmedi family who were killed on Aug. 29, 2021 by a Lockheed Martin Hellfire missile fired from a General Atomics Reaper Drone. After each name we responded; “We Remember You!”

Binyamin: boy, 3-year-old

Armin: boy, 4-year-old

Ayat: 2-year-old girl

Sumaya: little girl, age unknown

Malaka, 3-year-old

Farsal: 10-year-old

Farsad: 10-year-old

We also remembered the thousands of innocent civilians who died as a result of US drone attacks and air strikes over the last twenty years. The New York Times recently published a two-part series exposing a vast cover-up by the Pentagon of hiding the numbers of civilians killed by these US bombings. See: here. We called for the Pentagon, weapons contractors and the US government to repent for these sinful criminal attacks and make reparations to all the victims’ families. 

We also read the names of 13 homeless people who were among the 69 people who died without the dignity of home in D.C. in 2021. We also remembered the 141 members of the homeless community in D.C. who died after moving into housing in 2021. 

Paul then offered a prayer remembering South African Nobel Peace Prize recipient Archbishop Desmond Tutu who died on Dec. 26. This was followed by a prayer from Kathy Boylan calling on all soldiers and military chaplains to leave the military and refuse orders to kill. Chuck then offered a poem, The Work of Christmas, by Howard Thurman.  We ended the witness with a concluding prayer, Luci singing a powerful version of Mother’s Day by Peter Jones (see:here), and the “Vine and Fig Tree” song. 

During this Holy Season we are reminded once again of the promise of Emmanuel, God is with us. And we are invited by Jesus to make the Word flesh and to nonviolently resist the Herod’s of this world and all forces of death. We are ever mindful of the hope-filled message of the angel Gabriel to Mary of Nazareth, that nothing will be impossible for God! As we approach the end of 2021 and begin 2022, let us pray for each other, keep our eyes on the prize and do all we can to makes God’s reign of justice, love, peace and nonviolence a reality.

In Christ’s peace and hope,

Art 


Redeem the Times Declaration
(Note: We are indebted to Dan Berrigan and Ardeth Platte–Presente!–for their contributions to this declaration).

“Redeem the times,” proclaims the late peacemaking prophet, Jesuit Priest, Daniel Berrigan, along with countless others. “The times are inexpressibly evil.  And yet, the times are inexhaustibly good, solaced by the courage and hope of many. The truth rules, Christ is not forsaken.”

The violence, massacres and disregard for the truth and human life stops here today at the Pentagon. Now is the time for national repentance and personal and societal transformation. In solidarity with sisters and brothers around the world, we resolve to:

–renounce and resist all killing, violence, racism and torture;

–end environmental destruction, poverty and economic inequality;

–respect the human rights of all people, especially immigrants and refugees;          

–train and form diplomats, truth commissions, developers of international economies, trade specialists, nonviolent reconciliation teams, hospital ships, institutes for justice and peace, renewable energy implementation, mass transit lines, etc.;

–commit in policy that our country makes reparations to all victims of its military interventions worldwide, abolish war and weapons forever, hammer all swords into plowshares and convert the war economy so our planet and people may live;

–build homes for all, assure healthy food for all, develop health care and education for all, plan an economy for full meaningful employment;

–implore the U.S. and all nuclear nations to sign, ratify, and implement the UN Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons; 

–celebrate God’s creation with joy.

As we move into a New Year, we invite you to join with us as we strive to create the beloved community and a nonviolent world.


FEAST OF THE INNOCENTS: 1991–In Memoriam: Mass Graves

by Sr. Anne Montgomery, RSCJ

A voice in Ramah — a voice in Panama, Iraq–
weeping,
as yet again, Herod proclaims new birth
a threat,
the young expendable,
beginnings buried:
bulldozed into ditches,
shoveled into unmarked graves,
cast into the sea,
or flamed to ashes.

But in the sand and sea,
grass and cinders,
in silences,
the question will not die:
“Where is the one who is born?”
the child who sees with one eye__
or not at all,
who walks with one leg–
or never again,
whose dreams were shattered by shrapnel,
hunger stilled by pain.

The year’s death reminds us of an old story,
a nightmare that will not go away,
but, dragon-like, rises from the sea,
blinds the dawn,
blasphemes God’s name and dwelling
with fire from heaven
on those, uncounted, who do not count:
“You the nameless, do not exist.”
So it has been decreed,
for to allow the naming,
to confess reality and promise,
means new birth,
new time,
new humanity.
And so on this hill, clothed by the year’s new grass,
the Child gives each of you whom no one can name
or even number,
a new name–beyond our comprehension–
and to us who gather here, a hope, a challenge,
a new way back to an old land.

It is for those with a journey to make,
and on it the redeemed will walk.
They will meet with joy and gladness,
sorrow and mourning will flee. (Isaiah 35: 9-10)


The Work of Christmas 

When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock, 
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among others,
To make music in the heart. 

Howard Thurman is an African-American theologian, pastor, and mystic who lived from 1899 to 1981. He is best known as a mentor and spiritual advisor to the Civil Rights Movement, and Martin Luther King Jr in particular. Thurman wrote many great spiritual texts, including Jesus and the Disinherited (1949), Disciplines of the Spirit (1977), and more. This poem is from The Mood of Christmas and Other Celebrations.

Published in: on December 28, 2021 at 6:35 pm  Leave a Comment  

Report of Today’s AFA “Arms Bazaar” Witness

Dear Friends,


On this International Day of Peace, and in solidarity with all who are participating at this time in Campaign Nonviolence and the Catholic Days of Action.

Verleah Kosloske, Bob Cooke,Jack McHale and I vigiled today from Noon-1PM outside the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, MD which is once again hosting the annual Air Force Association (AFA) “Air-Space-Cyber Conference and Technology Exposition,” what we call an “Arms Bazaar.” (see above photos)


Yesterday, as I was leaving the weekly Dorothy Day Catholic Worker Pentagon Peace Vigil, I took photos of Northrop Grumman Ads that are displayed throughout the Pentagon metro area (see above photos). These Ads displayed by Northrop Grumman, a prominent weapons contractor, highlight what they are exhibiting at this year’s Arms Bazaar.

During our vigil we were present to both weapons contractors and military who were on their lunch break. We conducted a prayer service which included a “Prayer of Exorcism and Conversion,” a reading of the Beatitudes from Matthew’s Gospel (today is the Feast of St. Matthew), a Reflection and Response (see below), and a recitation of the CPT Litany of Resistance and Pax Christi Litany of Repentance and Conversion. We closed with singing “Down by the Riverside” and praying “The Lord’s Prayer.” 

In these perilous times, let us live in the hope that Jesus offers: “All things are possible for the one who has faith.” (Mk. 9:23) We beckon the holy cloud of witnesses, including Henri Nouwen (on this 25th anniversary of his death), Troy Davis (on this 10th anniversary of his execution), and all peace and justice makers who have gone home to God, and who are now interceding on our behalf. Hope abounds in the actions of countless people worldwide who are seeking to make God’s reign of justice and peace a reality. Let us redouble our efforts to do all we can to nonviolently resist the forces and systems of violence, racism, oppression and death and witness to the God of Life and Love as we strive to create the Beloved Community.

In hope and peace,

Art


Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society? Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood. In the face of this shameful and culpable silence, it is our duty to confront the problem and to stop the arms trade.”                                                                                                                                               –Pope Francis, September 24, 2015 Speech to the U.S. Congress

From September 20-22, the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center is once again playing host to the Air Force Association (AFA) “Air-Space-Cyber Conference and Technology Exposition,” what we call an “Arms Bazaar.” The AFA, according to its web site, is “the voice for aerospace power and the Air Force family.” This year’s theme marking the 75th anniversary of the AFA is: 

“AIR AND SPACE LEADERSHIP FOR OUR NATION – TODAY AND TOMORROW.” 

Response: God Commands Us Not to Kill and To Beat Swords into Plowshares! Stop the AFA Arms Bazaar! Disarm Now!

More than 140 exhibitors taking part in this year’s Arms Bazaar have played a prominent role in U.S. warmaking. Weapons contractors like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and BAE, are profiting from war and literally are making a killing! But that’s not all. The Pentagon and numerous arms dealers are committed to U.S. nuclear/military/cyber superiority and militarizing and controlling space.

Response: God Commands Us Not to Kill and To Beat Swords into Plowshares! Stop the AFA Arms Bazaar! Disarm Now!

During its three-day Arms Bazaar, the AFA will hold forums addressing how the U.S. can refine its warmaking apparatus and cyber capability so it can dominate earth and space. Here are titles for three of the forums: “Total Force–Air and Space,” “From Acquisition to Lethality,” “Fighting and Winning in Space.” Additionally, there will be two gala banquets. We decry the AFA Arms Bazaar for what it is: a scandalous affront to God, a theft from the poor, and a threat to people and the environment worldwide! 

Response: God Commands Us Not to Kill and To Beat Swords into Plowshares! Stop the AFA Arms Bazaar! Disarm Now!

The victims cry out for justice, and the earth, under daily assault, groans in travail! Who will speak for the poor and the victims, as arms dealers reap huge profits from their lethal weapons and death technology? 

Response: God Commands Us Not to Kill and To Beat Swords into Plowshares! Stop the AFA Arms Bazaar! Disarm Now!

Who will protect our sacred earth and environment? Who will help to convert the U.S. war economy to meet urgent human needs? We need, more than ever, to nonviolently resist all U.S. warmaking, racism and oppression–from Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Gaza and elsewhere, and all systemic violence in every city and town in our country. 

Response: God Commands Us Not to Kill and To Beat Swords into Plowshares! Stop the AFA Arms Bazaar! Disarm Now!

Together, let us continue to do all we can to establish the Beloved Community, end the climate crisis, eradicate poverty and create a world free of nuclear and conventional weapons, killer drones, war, racial hatred and oppression. In the name of God, who calls us to love and not to hate, demonize and kill, and to beat all the swords of our time into plowshares, it’s time to end this Arms Bazaar! 

Response: God Commands Us Not to Kill and To Beat Swords into Plowshares! Stop the AFA Arms Bazaar! Disarm Now!

Please join with us as we seek to say YES to Life and a resounding NO to the merchants of death and war profiteers. 

Response: God Commands Us Not to Kill and To Beat Swords into Plowshares! Stop the AFA Arms Bazaar! Disarm Now!

Published in: on September 21, 2021 at 9:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

Protest the Air Force Association Arms Bazaar

When: Tuesday, September 21, 2021, from 12 Noon – 1:00 p.m.  

What: A Nonviolent Safe Distance Vigil and Prayer Service for Peace and Justice during the annual AFA Air-Space-Cyber Conference and Technology Exposition, what we call an “Arms Bazaar.” This year the Arms Bazaar is being held in person and virtually for those not able to attend. This witness is being held on the International Day of Peace, and in-solidarity with Campaign Nonviolence, who will be sponsoring a week-long series of actions nationwide from September 18-26. Over 4,200 actions are being planned in the U.S. and abroad this year.

For more info see: https://paceebene.org/action-week.

For more info about the AFA Arms Bazaar see: 
https://www.afa.org/events/calendar/2021-09-20/air-space-cyber-conference


Where: Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, 201 Waterfront St., National Harbor, MD 20745. We will meet for the vigil at the corner of Waterfront St. and St. George Blvd., directly across from the Gaylord National Resort.

Sponsored by the Dorothy Day Catholic WorkerFor more info contact: Art Laffin – 202-360-6416,  artlaffin@hotmail.com

Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society? Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood. In the face of this shameful and culpable silence, it is our duty to confront the problem and to stop thearmstrade.”                                                                                                                                               –Pope Francis, September 24, 2015 Speech to the U.S. Congress

Dear Friends, 

From September 20-22, the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center is once again playing host to the Air Force Association (AFA) “Air-Space-Cyber Conference and Technology Exposition,” what we call an “Arms Bazaar.” The AFA, according to its web site, is “the voice for aerospace power and the Air Force family.” This year’s theme marking the 75th anniversary of the AFA is: “AIR AND SPACE LEADERSHIP FOR OUR NATION – TODAY AND TOMORROW.” According the AFA web site, “Over 12,000 people registered for the last in-person Air, Space & Cyber Conference and Technology Exposition including top decision-makers from the Air Force. The last in-person conference broke records for attendance and we fully expect another record-breaking crowd this fall.”

More than 140 exhibitors taking part in this year’s Arms Bazaar have played a prominent role in U.S. warmaking. Weapons contractors like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and BAE, are profiting from war and literally are making a killing! See:https://www.afa.org/events/airspacecyber2021/sponsor-listing.

But that’s not all. The Pentagon and numerous arms dealers are committed to U.S. nuclear/military/cyber superiority and militarizing and controlling space.

During its three-day Arms Bazaar, the AFA will hold forums addressing how the U.S. can refine its warmaking apparatus and cyber capability so it can dominate earth and space.
See: https://www.afa.org/events/airspacecyber2021/agenda.Here are titles for three of the forums: “Total Force–Air and Space,” “From Acquistion to Lethality,” “Fighting and Winning in Space.” Additionally, there will be two gala banquets. We decry the AFA   Arms Bazaar for what it is: a scandalous affront to God, a theft from the poor, and a threat to people and the environment worldwide! 

The victims cry out for justice, and the earth, under daily assault, groans in travail! Who will speak for the poor and the victims, as arms dealers reap huge profits from their lethal weapons and death technology? Who will protect our sacred earth and environment? Who will help to convert the U.S. war economy to meet urgent human needs? We need, more than ever, to nonviolently resist all U.S. warmaking, racism and oppression–from Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Gaza and elsewhere, and all systemic violence in every city and town in our country. Together, let us continue to do all we can to establish the Beloved Community, end the climate crisis, eradicate poverty and create a world free of nuclear and conventional weapons, killer drones, war, racial hatred and oppression. In the name of God, who calls us to love and not to hate, demonize and kill, and to beat all the swords of our time into plowshares, it’s time to end this Arms Bazaar!  


Please join with members of the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker, Pax Christi and other peacemakers as we seek to say YES to Life and a resounding NO to the merchants of death and war profiteers. 

Please share this with your contacts and network.

With gratitude, 
Art Laffin

Directions to Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center

Directions from Downtown D.C., Parking and Meeting Place
Take 395 South (off of New York Ave. or Constitution Ave. at 9th St. NW) Merge onto 295 South via exit on left (crossing into Maryland) – 7.4 miles. Take the exit toward National Harbor. Take ramp to National Harbor Blvd. Bear left on National Harbor Blvd. and go two blocks to St. George Blvd. Make a right on St. George Blvd. Go to one block before Waterfront St. and look for street meter parking. Also St. George Parking Garage is on right in case you can’t find street parking (just past the cross street called Mariner Passage). The garage is one block before Waterfront St., where the Gaylord National Resort is located. We will meet for the vigil at the corner of Waterfront St. and St. George Blvd. directly across from the Gaylord National Resort. If you are coming from Maryland or Virginia use Map Quest for the most precise route to the Gaylord. 
For public transportation go https://www.wmata.com/ and click on TRIP PLANNER.

Published in: on September 14, 2021 at 9:18 pm  Leave a Comment  

Report of August 9, 2021 76th Anniversary of the US Nuclear Bombing of Nagasaki Commemoration Pentagon Witness


“Humanity and nuclear weapons can’t coexist.”

Setsuko Thurlow, Hiroshima Survivor and member of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), 2017 ICAN Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech 

Dear Friends, 


Early this morning, from 7-8 AM, 15 peacemakers from the DMV held a prayer service of repentance at the Pentagon, the center of warmaking on the planet, for the sinful and criminal U.S. nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. During this prayer service of Remembrance, Repentance and Resistance (similar to what was offered for the Aug. 6th White House Witness), we prayed for the victims of these unspeakable nuclear atrocities, and called on the nation to repent for the nuclear sin and bring about total disarmament and nuclear abolition. 
Like for the Aug. 6th White House witness, the theme for this witness was “In the Presence of All Who Perished: Remembrance in the Age of the Ban Treaty.” Our witness was in solidarity with nationwide actions (see: https://www.facebook.com/groups/336042507972854), and worldwide commemorations to abolish nuclear weapons.


As we gathered in the police designated fenced off protest area to begin the witness, we displayed photos of the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and banners along the fence near the sidewalk where civilians and soldiers pass by on their way into the building. To open the prayer service Luci Murphy sang “Healing River.” I then offered a statement about the purpose of our witness. Paul Magno read the Apology Petition to the people of Japan. Dan Moriarty read Hiroshima Survivor Setsuko Thurlow’s acceptance speech for the 2017 ICAN Nobel Peace Prize. I offered a song of the A-Bomb survivors. John Kelly, Mike Walli, Kathy Boylan, Sunny Neelam and Alex read a reflection on the decision to use the Bomb, the perils of nuclear weapons and the moral necessity to ban them. Luci Murphy led us in singing the “Little Dead Girl of Hiroshima.” Jack McHale led the Litany of Repentance, and Ken Cooper read Dan Berrigan’s poem “Shadow on the Rock.” 


As today also marks the anniversaries of the martyrdom of St. Edith Stein and Blessed Franz Jagerstatter, we read quotes from both of these martyrs who were killed by the Nazi regime. We also called into our presence the entire cloud of witnesses, including those who have witnessed at the Pentagon during their lifetime. 


I also offered a prayer for Pentagon Police Officer George Gonzalez who was killed by Austin Lanz last Tuesday at the Pentagon. We prayed, too, for Lanz and all who were affected by this tragedy. Also, both Kathy and I conveyed our condolences to Pentagon police officers we encountered at the vigil regarding the death of officer Gonzalez. 

To conclude our witness Luci Murphy lead us in a moving version of the song: “Vine and Fig Tree.”
Please see the photo and story by Ryohei Takagi, Correspondent, Kyodo News Washington Bureau, that was published by Japan’s leading news agency about the August 6 White House commemoration witness. https://www.chunichi.co.jp/article/306807. (Make sure to click on English translation when you access the link.)

Finally, I want to express great gratitude to everyone who attended the August 6-and 9th White House and Pentagon witnesses, as well as for those who could not attend and who expressed their prayerful solidarity.  And special thanks to each of you who receive this, for all you are doing to help create the Beloved Community. 
In hope for a disarmed world,


Art

Published in: on August 9, 2021 at 10:30 pm  Comments (1)  

Aug. 6, 2021 76th Anniversary of the US Nuclear Bombing of Hiroshima Commemoration Prayer Service of Repentance Across the Street from the White House


Ryohei Takagi, Correspondent, Kyodo News Washington Bureau

“Humanity and nuclear weapons can’t coexist.”

Setsuko Thurlow, Hiroshima Survivor and member of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), 2017 ICAN Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech 
 

Dear Friends, 
 
On August 6, to commemorate the 76th anniversary of the sinful and criminal U.S. nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, over 30 peacemakers held a noontime prayer service in Lafayette Park across the street from the White House (see prayer service below). We were not able to hold our witness on Pennsylvania Ave. as it was just recently closed due to a paving project. The witness was organized by the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker and co-sponsored by Assisi Community, Jonah House, Anne Montgomery House, Pax Christi Metro DC Baltimore, Sisters of Mercy of the Americas–Justice Team, Maryknoll Office of Global Concerns, Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach, Leadership Conference of Women Religious, Franciscan Action Network, Little Friends for Peace, and Pax Christi USA. 
 
“In the Presence of All Who Perished: Remembrance in the Age of the Ban Treaty” is the theme for actions that are being held across the U.S on Aug. 6-9 and organized the U.S. Days of Action Working Group. see:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/336042507972854
Our witness was in solidarity with these nationwide actions and worldwide commemorations to abolish nuclear weapons. 
 
This witness of remembrance, repentance, resistance and nuclear abolition will continue on Aug. 9th at the Pentagon, as we commemorate the US nuclear bombing of Nagasaki. For those in the DMV area please join us. If you haven’t already received this info, please contact me.
 
In hope for a disarmed world,
 
Art


I. Prayer Service of Repentance for Aug. 6, 2021- White House Witness

Opening

APOLOGY PETITION (Led by Scott Wright and Jean Stokan)

(more…)

Published in: on August 7, 2021 at 4:33 pm  Leave a Comment