By Jane Stoever

A pandemic pivot from funding war and weapons to caring for humanity and Earth—that was the aim of “Human Care, Not Warfare” on Memorial Day, May 25, in Kansas City, Mo. PeaceWorks-KC Board members and leaders from several other groups spoke out and CARE-a-vanned two days before the nation’s death toll from COVID-19 reached 100,000.

Henry Stoever shows off the sign Bennette Dibben designed for our CARE-a-vans.—Photos by Jim Hannah

Participants put signs on their cars at Longfellow Park at 30th Street near Troost Ave. The car signs, as well as masks to lessen the spread of the virus, were emblazoned with “Human Care, Not Warfare.” The first CARE-a-van of about 15 cars traveled to 3800 Troost, the parking lot of St. Mark Hope and Peace Lutheran Church, to be met at the lot by another 16 cars. Forty-five participants, standing 6 feet apart, joined in chants as the 12 speakers shared their messages. Several accompanying stories cover the talks and link to audio or video tapes.

PeaceWorks Co-Chair Sunny Hamrick, the emcee, said the PeaceWorks Memorial Day actions began 8 years ago, mourning 154-plus deaths from contaminants at the old nuclear weapon parts plant at Bannister Federal Complex. Hamrick explained, “We’re memorializing all the lives lost in war and producing weapons.”

Ann Suellentrop posts a chant on a pole at the rally site, St. Mark Hope and Peace Lutheran Church.—Photos by Jim Hannah

PeaceWorks Co-Chair Henry Stoever insisted, “All money allocated for weapons and military projects should be frozen and transferred to research on COVID-19 and other viruses, to full testing of the entire world, to treatment of all who are ill, to a vaccine for all viruses.” Stoever thanked the crowd at St. Mark’s, saying, “I am honored to be in your presence—you are the conscience of the community—you feed the needy, you reach out to the soldier with PTSD.”

Following the rally at St. Mark’s, five cars CARE-a-vanned through the Plaza, around the University of Kansas Medical Center (with a bow to health care workers), and through the 39th Street shopping and neighborhood areas. Some 15 cars made it to the entry road for the new nuclear weapon parts plant, the National Security Campus, in south KC MO.

At the midtown rally, Hamrick, saying he found hope in the good works of the people gathered, led them in Holly Near’s song “I Am Willing”—with these lyrics.

Leigh Woody and Sunny Hamrick (with the guitar) belt out “I Am Willing” at the midtown rally on Memorial Day.—Photos by Jim Hannah

I Am Willing       

I am open and I am willing
To be hopeless would seem so strange
It dishonors those who go before us
So lift me up to the light of change
There is hurting in my family
There is sorrow in my town
There is panic in the nation
There is wailing the whole world round
May the children see more clearly
May the elders be more wise
May the winds of change caress us
Even though it burns our eyes
Give me a mighty oak to hold my confusion
Give me a desert to hold my fears
Give me a sunset to hold my wonder
Give me an ocean to hold my tears

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—Jane Stoever wrote this story; Jim Hannah took the pictures; both belong to PeaceWorks-KC.