Nebraska and Iowa faith-based groups marked the August 6 and 9 anniversaries of the atomic bombings with four day-long vigils at the gate of Offutt Air Force Base, home of Stratcom, the U.S. Strategic Nuclear Command. The annual witness in Omaha concluded with a simple line crossing. Marion Solomon, 50 years in the peace movement, decided this was her year to take that step.
"I've been with Catholic Peace Ministry [a sponsor of the vigil] for two and a half years," Solomon told The Daily Nonpareil. "I've been to Hebron and Jerusalem, and I've seen what our military's weapons have done in the world. So this year I am crossing the line... we must stop supplying weapons of destruction to our world, beginning with Israel. For the poor of the world, the U.S. government is the No. 1 terrorist."
Solomon was arrested and soon released with a ban and bar letter.
Present in heart and spirit with the vigilers was Fr. Frank Cordaro, finishing up a six month federal prison sentence for repeatedly crossing the line at Stratcom. Fr. Cordaro will complete this, his sixth maximum trespass sentence, on September 5. In one of the last of his weekly liturgical reflections, he wrote: Before I crossed the line at Offutt last August, I promised Bishop Charron that if I got the six month sentence we expected, I would give the diocese a full two years of priestly ministry before I risked going back to jail again. It's part of the compromise we've worked out together. It's a fair deal, like all good compromises, each of us had to give up something. Still, two years in our world today is a very long time. With the troubles in the Middle East, U.S. military escalation in Columbia, South America, the conflict between Pakistan and India and the so-called War on Terrorism, a lot of god-awful things might happen, demanding a response, an outcry, a call to resistance. "But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart imprisoned in my bones; I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it." (Jeremiah 20:9)
For more information, contact Catholic Peace Ministry, 4211 Grand Ave., Des Moines, IA 50312, (515)255-8114. Fr. Frank returns home to the Des Moines Catholic Worker Community, POB 4551, Des Moines, IA 50306.