By Ann Suellentrop
Joining hundreds of other pacificists, three KC-area residents are vigiling at the Trinity test site in Alamogordo, NM, and attending the interfaith prayer service in Santa Fe, NM. Trinity, the code name of the world’s first nuclear weapon detonation, was marked by a 24-hour vigil this July 15-16; the Trinity explosion was on July 16, 1945, at 5:29 am (Mountain Time). The Santa Fe interfaith service, hosted by Archbishop John Wester and other interfaith leaders, is being livestreamed at https://youtube.com/live/2EnpL0aDQ1E?feature=share
The peace pilgrims from the KC area are Donna Constantineau, a long-time opponent of war and its weapons; Rose Roos, who with Ann and others attended the DC Days lobbying this spring led by the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability; and myself (Ann Suellentrop, a co-chair of PeaceWorks KC).
I have been to the vigil several times, and Donna came once before. I pray for the abolition of nuclear weapons, as I do every day. I pray for the people who have been killed or made ill by nuclear weapons—through war, testing, or production (mining, processing, factory work, waste cleanup/storage). Plutonium is the deadliest poison ever created. It did not exist in nature prior to humans making it from uranium in nuclear power plants. And it will last millions of years. It is the reverse Midas touch—it contaminates everything it touches.
The 24-hour vigil is held at the Trinity site at the former Alamogordo, NM. The vigil was begun about 30 years ago by Father Emmanuel Charles McCarthy, a nonviolence proponent. The annual vigil includes several church services and a countdown right before the moment commemorating the Trinity explosion (5:29 am).
The Santa Fe event, A World Without Nuclear Weapons: From Reflection to Action—An Interfaith Remembrance of the Trinity Test, was organized by the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, Soka Gakkai International-USA, Nuclear Watch New Mexico, Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium, and United Church of Santa Fe.
We KC peace pilgrims expect to meet with Archbishop Wester before the interfaith service. He has said, “We can no longer deny or ignore the extremely dangerous predicament of our human family. We are in a new nuclear arms race far more dangerous than the first, and I believe we need to rejuvenate a sustained, serious conversation about universal, verifiable nuclear disarmament.”
Tina Cordova, a co-organizer of the interfaith event and co-founder of the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium, said, “We don’t ask IF we’ll get cancer, we ask WHEN it will be our turn. The government basically walked away from the people of New Mexico and has taken no responsibility for all the sacrifice, suffering, and the dying.”