Lois Swimmer reflects on dangers of war and its weapons at peace witness

Lois Swimmer, a member of the Elder Circle at Cherith Brook Catholic Worker in Kansas City, Mo., spoke at PeaceWorks-KC’s Memorial Day peace witness. At an entry to the KC plant that makes parts for nuclear weapons, Swimmer said, “This place that makes parts for war affects a lot of people. Militarism is impacting our community of poor people.” Other speakers said the cost of the National Security Campus is about $1 billion per year, funds that should be spent on meeting people’s needs.

Swimmer reflected, “The environmental legacy of US wars around the world included unexploded ordinance left behind, forests destroyed by chemical defoliants such as agent orange, and toxic liquids that leach into the soil and water of war-ravaged countries. Along with the environmental suffering, people suffer also.”

Since Vietnam, the US has waged an ongoing war, siphoning massive resources away from social needs, said Swimmer. “Knowing what I know now about these awful chemicals and what kind of effect they have on people, I understand why my uncle came home from Vietnam in the state he was in. Mentally, physically, and emotionally, he was drained. I was only 9 or 10 at the time and never paid it no mind why he would sometimes just shout out something and crouch down and hide. Today, he is still fighting these demons and still is sick.” Like Swimmer, her uncle is a Lakota from the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe.

Swimmer concluded her talk at the entry to the factory for making parts for nuclear weapons in Kansas City by saying, “From war in other countries, people come home to sickness. But people in their own back yard have also gotten sick and passed from their jobs at these plants. We need to protect Mother Earth from this devastation. Let’s keep coming back to honor our lost.”

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