by Vincent Scotti Eirene
on behalf of the Pittsburgh Catholic Worker
Thomas Merton and the Nuclear Era
On Sunday afternoon “Little Boy” was brought out in procession and devoutly tucked away in the womb of Enola Gay. That evening few were able to sleep. They were as excited as little boys on Christmas Eve. At 3:09 they reached Hiroshima and started the bomb run. The city was full of sun. The fliers could see the green grass in the gardens. No fighters rose up to meet them. There was no flack. No one in the city bothered to take cover. The bomb exploded within 100 feet of the aiming point. The fireball was 18,000 feet across. The temperature at the center of the fireball was 100,000,000 degrees. The people who were near the center became nothing. The whole city was blown to bits and the ruins all caught fire instantly everywhere, burning briskly. 70,000 people were killed right away or died within a few hours. Those who did not die at once suffered great pain. Few of them were soldiers. —from “the original child bomb” a poem by Thomas Merton
COLD WAR PILGRIMAGE 1986
I started my two mile trek thru farm with a home made ladder spray painted black so as not to reflect the light. a herd of cows came racing up to me, looked at me with curiosity and I whispered to them “I am doing this for you too”. Realizing I had no food for them, the cows ran away sounding like thunder. I nervously looked up at the guard tower and noticed the search light had stopped strafing the field, aha the guard had fallen asleep. I moved quickly now, but steady. I hit the first fence, leaned up the ladder gently, and felt like I flew up and over the fence and razor wire. Once I hit the ground the motion detectors set of the alarms and the sleepy facility came to life.
Out of nowhere came 36 marines screaming, “do not move, just give me an excuse boy”. Out the dark a voice ordered me to remove my coat, to knell down, to put my hands behind my back and to cross my legs behind me. The last odd order caused a painful cramp in my leg and I fell onto my coat. The voice from the dark night screamed, “away from your coat, away from your coat”. I scurried backwards like a hermit crab. It was January 1st 1986, the cold war seemed endless and I had trespassed on our nations only nuclear bomb factory, Pantex nuclear bomb factory in Amarillo, Texas. My punishment for this intrusion was a year in prison. I served 10 months. The cold war ended but a sense of futurelessness did not…
1986 to 2011
Decades would go by. Anti-nuclear resisters migrated to anti-iraq war activities and the environment, but nuclear weapons never sleep, nor do they need an enemy. So under the START treaty the “rehabbing” of aging nuclear weapons was allowed (read making new weapons). The new Pantex, the new nuclear bomb factory in Kansas City, Missouri, did not come out of nowhere, but is part of decades of research about the improving of nuclear weapons and their delivery systems, including unmanned flying vehicle—drones developed at CMU.
Today the new Pantex is secretly preparing the produce new nuclear weapons
the thousands of nuclear weapons sitting in world arsenals are the most dangerous legacy of the Cold War.
As this goes to press several new nuclear resisters have been released at their trial for crossing the line at hell’s new kitchen. The judge stated, “I agree with you go and do more”! The Kansas City Plant is responsible for the production and assembly of approximately 85 percent of the non-nuclear components for the U.S. nuclear arsenal. The plant is due to be relocated starting in 2012. The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), a division of the U.S. Department of Energy, has said the new facility will carry an estimated price tag of $673 million for construction. The city government has subsidized the facility’s construction with $815 million in municipal bonds. Once completed, it is thought the new Kansas City Plant will be the first nuclear weapons complex in the world to be owned by a city government. The new Kansas City facility is one of several where new nuclear weapons projects are underway. The new Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Project at Los Alamos, N.M., is also under construction, and a new uranium processing facility in Oak Ridge, Tenn. is in the final stages before approval.
RIKUZENTAKATA, Japan—In the quiet hours just after dawn, Yasumori Matsuzaka drives through the ruins of his hometown, past the gutted hospital and the mounds of splintered wood and shattered concrete.The object of his pilgrimage: a tree. The solitary pine, which towers 100 feet above this pulverized city’s waterfront, is all that’s left of a grove of roughly 70,000 trees that once lined the beach here, and which his ancestors helped plant more than two centuries ago.
It has become a national symbol of Japan’s tenacity, clinging to life amid the destruction of the March 11 tsunami, which killed more than 20,000 people and laid waste to entire communities along the country’s northeast coast.
July 9, 2011 wall street journal
The lone pine, to me, symbolizes the peace movement. With the US involved in four wars, the movement is exhausted— the drones bombing pakistan, the continuing wars in iraq and afganistan, the “humanitarian bomb” of lybia, now the revealing of new nuclear weapons production. To what end? For what enemy? But we rush in to save the lone pine…