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Why are Jim, Tom, Brian crossing the line Memorial Day?

As people prepare to cross the property line at the Kansas City National Security Campus (NSC) on Memorial Day, they’ve put pen to paper to say why.

Jim Hannah of Independence, MO, who is risking his fifth arrest this Memorial Day, observes, “Humanity has developed a weapon that is not just indiscriminately genocidal, or even suicidal. Nuclear weapons at the level they now exist are omnicidal—capable of destroying life as we know it, through blast effects and the ensuing radioactive fallout of nuclear winter.” Jim criticizes the military-corporate-educational-entertainment-religion complex that is fueling a renewed arms race.

Jim holds out hope: “The cumulative effect of many small acts of resistance contributes to an unanticipated tipping point, akin to the fall of the Berlin Wall or the collapse of the Soviet Union. The evidence for such a shift in consciousness is seen in the recent and growing support for the United Nations Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, now with 54 signatory nations. The cracks are beginning to show in the wall of nuclear weapons.”

Jim reflects that “our small acts of resistance” keep himself from changing “into a condition of denial, depression, or despair.” After all, he adds, “I consider love to be the ultimate energy of the cosmos, and it shall prevail. I want to align my life with that life-giving force, not with the death-dealing threat of nuclear annihilation.”

Tom Mountenay with family members at Memorial Day rally in 2019.–Photo by Mark Semet

Tom Mountenay, also of Independence, is preparing to step across the NSC property line for the first time. “For many years,” says Tom, “I have seen myself as a ‘side walk’ supporter for those who protest by trespass. I especially admired my wife and friends who would protest at the risk of being arrested. All this time I felt deep gratitude to simply be associated with good people engaged in a good cause. I don’t have a fiery passion, just a strong sense that now is the time to ‘disclose without words’ by a simple action to trespass and join ‘good people in a good cause.’ I believe this is an act of love to move our world towards a future when there will be no weapons of war as prophesied in Isaiah 2:4.—‘They will hammer their swords into plowshares, their spears into sickles. Nation will not lift sword against nation; nor shall they learn war anymore.’”

Brian Terrell, who with his wife, Betsy Keenan, leads the community at the Strangers and Guests Catholic Worker Farm in Maloy, IA, crossed the line at the KC nuke-parts plant in 2018. Brian notes that the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons makes it a criminal offense under international law to develop, test, produce, acquire, possess, stockpile, use or threaten to use nuclear weapons. “This was a great victory for humanity,” says Brian, “but still only a step along the way to eliminate nuclear weapons, considering that none of the nuclear armed nations ratified it or consider it binding. The great work done by parliamentarians, diplomats, lawyers and others working through official channels cannot be discounted, but the progress so far has also been due to grass roots agitation and direct action such as we see at the ‘National Security Campus’ bomb factory in Kansas City. The elimination of nuclear weapons is necessary for survival and must be included in all of our other great causes for social justice and our hopes for the future. Our Memorial Day protest at the National Security Campus is one part of this essential human obligation.”

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Man hanging origame peace cranes.