To commemorate the 70th year since the U.S. began the Nuclear Age by dropping an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, 30 friends from the Atlantic Life Community and other peace groups participated today in an early morning peace witness at the Pentagon that was organized by the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker. The group carried signs, photos of the aftermath of the Hiroshima bombing, and banners, two of which read: “Remember the Past, Repent the Sin, Reclaim the Future–Hiroshima and Nagasaki” and “Abolish Nuclear Weapons.” The group then processed from Army-Navy Drive to the regular protest site near the Pentagon metro station. While most people entered the police designated protest area, five of our community remained on the sidewalk a good distance behind the main procession, and were prevented by police from walking any further. They proceeded to kneel or stand across the sidewalk, holding photos of Hiroshima victims, as several people spread ashes on the pavement. Bill Streit, Nancy Gowen, Kathy Boylan and Andrea Eiland were arrested within ten minutes. Steve Baggarly, who handed out at least of dozen leaflets about the conversion of Fr. George Zabelka, the Enola Gay military chaplain, was also arrested for leafleting. They were all charged with “disobeying a lawful order.” Steve was given an additional charge under a “soliciting” statute. They were all processed and released after several hours. They were given a trial date of October 1 in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, VA.
As the five were awaiting arrest, the community that had gathered in the designated protest area, held a prayer service of repentance (see below). During the course of the service, which was repeated twice during the one-and-a-half hour witness, there were periods of silence. Shortly before 8:15 AM, which was the exact time the bomb was dropped, the leaflet with George Zabelka’s testimony was read and the song of the A-Bomb survivors was offered. We concluded our witness with a centering Shalom prayer, followed by a blessing for five friends, including recently-released Transform Now Plowshares prisoners Sr. Megan Rice and Mike Walli, who were immediately leaving to attend peace events in Knoxville, TN, organized by the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance (OREPA). Our closing circle ended with the singing of “Vine and Fig Tree.”