Tuesday, August 18, 2009


The dog days of summer. August is here. The road trip from Wyoming to New Mexico was relaxing and scenic and summer. The horizons smiled at us. Santa Fe was bustling and vibrant and fun. Lots of people and history and art.

We were on our way to Los Alamos, which has a history unto itself. Our focus was the Los Alamos National Laboratory. It has 13,000 employees and a yearly budget of 2.2 billion dollars. It's main purpose has always been the classified work for the design of nuclear weapons.

We, along with other Pax Christi members traveled from many states and countries to participate at a vigil to remember what happened from there 64 years ago. As we walked in silent, reflective, non-violent procession to be witnesses to that event, I thought it ironic we crossed a street called Oppenheimer Drive, named for J. Robert Oppenheimer, the first director of that famous Manhattan Project.

Los Alamos is high country, over 7,000 feet. It has breath-taking mountain scenery. Its canyons and mesas cry out beauty and peace. It is one of the wealthiest communities in the United States. Hundreds of PHD's do not come cheap. As I sat among others at the lab site, in silent prayer and reflection, my mind reached back and pulled 64 years ago close.

"The bomb exploded with a blinding flash in the sky...a great rush of air...a loud rumble of noise...a great cloud of dust and smoke...a pall of darkness...fires sprang up...an immense fire store...." (from the U.S. Gov't report on Hiroshima)

Monday, August 6, 1945....Hiroshima, Japan
Thursday, August 9, 1945...Nagasaki, Japan

These are, to date, the only attacks with nuclear weapons in the history of warfare.

The victims: Two cities in Japan
The perpetrators: The United States of America

Killed: 140,000 people in Hiroshima
80,000 people in Nagasaki

One half of these deaths occurred on the days of the bombings. 15-20% died from injuries of the combined effects of flash burns, trauma, and radiation burns, compounded by illness, malnutrition, and radiation sickness. Since then more have died from leukemia and cancers attributed to exposure to radiation released by the bombs.


Beautiful Los Alamos. Why am I crying??

Pax Tecum

Thursday, August 6, 2009


I just completed reading a remarkable book entitled "The Third Chapter...Passion, Risk, and Adventure in the 25 Years After 50" by Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot. She writes that the third chapter is a stage of life when the traditional norms, rules, and rituals of our careers seem less restrictive; a time to embrace new challenges and to search for a greater meaning in our lives.

This book spoke to me. Since my retirement 2 years ago I have been on a new path, that I haven't been able to articulate clearly, to myself or to others. For over 30 years I worked diligently in the public health sector being an advocate for people who had no power.
Along the way I was fortunate to be in the arena with some large social justice issues. I worked with the farm-workers in Central California, with immigrants fighting tuberculosis in Texas, and elderly people in Wyoming who had to choose between buying food and medications. I did what I could, along with working long hours and raising a family.

My life changed dramatically and quickly when I retired. All of a sudden I had the time and the passion to devote to direct action activities so near and dear my heart. With the support from my terrific family, I entered into justice issues, I had never had the time to explore before.

And I jumped in with both feet, energized by a passion too long ignored in a journey that led to this time in my life. I am no longer afraid of speaking out, or of standing up, or of questioning the powers that be. My place is to be in that march to make the world more just, more peaceful and more loving. There is a voice to my heart and it speaks louder every day.

And so I am arrested and imprisoned for my beliefs. What a gift that was! And I continue on. Know that in my writings I am talking to myself as much as I am talking to you. I wll write more of my journey, most recently a trip to New Mexico in recognition of the anniversary of the atomic attack on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. With joy I invite you to travel with me, but wear good shoes and carry some water. The trail can get bumpy and hot!

Pax Tecum