International Day of Protest

Report from: Edwards Airforce Base

By Toni Flynn toniflynn@earthlink.net


Members and friends of the High Desert Catholic Worker celebrated a Mass for Peace at Manna House (our C.W. house) prior to our vigil at Edwards Airforce Base. We were joined at Mass by a Muslim who attends a mosque in our neighborhood.

After the Mass, a group of us caravaned further into the Mojave desert and gathered around a big entrance sign to Edwards Airforce Base just outside the West gate.  We unfolded a huge sign of our own that read "Peace on Earth and in Space" and got down on our knees to pray the Rosary for Peace. Some Greens joined us with vigil signs. And children too. As the day progressed, we were joined by a couple of people who had driven all the way from Las Vegas after first participating in the sunrise service at the Neveda Test Site.

The desert was dry and hot. Passersby tended to be at least tolerant of our presence. Some even waved as they drove onto the base. A few pulled their cars up and we dialoged with them. We had been in communication with  staff at the AFB so they let us do "our thing" without incident.

The attached is our statement. We sent it to the local press but unfortunately they did not give us a voice in the newspapers. We also sent it to personnel at the base who acknowledged receipt and I feel sure that it was read by many enlisted and civilian people at Edwards.

We did take photos with a conventional camera and when the film is developed, we'll send it along to you via snail mail.

It was an honor to participate in your international event. Let us hope that somehow our collective actions lead to a disarmed, non-violent earth and to a heaven that is restored to the God of Peace.

Thank you for all of your organizational efforts!

Blessings!

Toni Flynn
High Desert Catholic Worker


STATEMENT

HIGH DESERT CATHOLIC WORKER MEMBERS AND FRIENDS are here today, October 13, 2001, at Edwards Airforce Base, some to pray the Rosary for Peace and others to stand as witnesses for an alternative to violence and retaliation. We know we are small in number and voice. Nonetheless, we showed up. We chose today as our vigil day so that, in addition to our plea for a non-violent solution to the terrorist strikes, we might join others who are gathering throughout the world for an International Day of Protest to Stop the Militarization of Space.

We believe there is a tragic link in all plans and preparations for war; in all implementations of weaponry; in all declarations of war. We are convinced that nations cannot simultaneously practice the ways of war and the ways of peace.

Catholic Workers believe in the God of Peace. We do not use God as a tool to justify our cause; rather, we rely on God to show us a better way to live and care for the earth and all that lives upon the earth.

Most days, we are busy volunteering with the poor, the sick, the hungry, the imprisoned. We are here today instead because we feel deeply that lands and peoples have suffered enough from the effects of warmaking, are suffering still, even as we make this statement. 

The ongoing temptation of we humans is our compelling inclination to become what we most oppose - violent beings. Our nation has discovered that it is vulnerable to attack, that sophisticated weaponry and military technology are unable to prevent suffering and death. Yet our government persists in justifying efforts to bomb other lands and to carry out plans to extend human warfare into the heavens with space defense systems. 

We are here to stand vigil at the entrance to Edwards Airforce Base - a testing facility for war planes and space weaponry - and to bend down on our knees and pray for peace on earth and in space.

We are here to ask the questions: When will we stop expanding our death machines, our nuclear weapons? When will we change our primitive thinking that war is a ! solution to anything lasting and worthy? When will we stop sending our young to kill other young, and to be killed, in opposition to killing?

We are here to pray for the transformation of hearts within ourselves, our fellow community members, and the military personnel and other staff who work at this Base, that we may see the wisdom found in turning to other methods of justice, namely, non-violent methods.

May we all see the day wherein swords are turned into ploughshares, the heavens are left for God, the earth is restored to peacefulness, and people all over the world become teachers and mentors of non-violence, using skill, technology, talent, and spiritual vision for peaceful solutions to conflict, oppression, injustice, and poverty.

Let terror die from lack of counter-terror and from an abundance of love, actively pouring out, neighbor to neighbor, nation to nation. We know that these words sound naive.

Our small numbers and our prayers and peace signs seem insignificant in the shadow of a war and of this military base. We don't care how foolish we may appear. We are here to pray to our God for peace.

If not now, when? If not here, where? If not us, who?


CORRESPONDENCE

----- Original Message -----
From: Toni Flynn <toniflynn@earthlink.net>
To: Armstrong Marshall L SSgt 95 SFS/SFOI
<Marshall.Armstrong@edwards.af.mil>
Sent: Monday, October 15, 2001 1:24 PM
Subject: RE: Our Statement for the October 13th vigil

Dear SSgt. Armstrong:

I hope that wherever you are assigned, God holds you in safe keeping. It was really good to know that we could work together at this time. Thank you for informing me of another contact; I'll keep his name for any future needs.

Blessings!

Toni

Toni,

You're quite welcome. I'm glad everything went well! I will be leaving for another assignment in a few weeks, so if you need any more assistance, please contact TSgt Blair after 2 Nov, same office number as mine...he's my boss.

May God bless you and the members of your group in the future.

Peace,

MARSHALL L ARMSTRONG, SSgt, USAF
95th Security Forces Investigations
105 E Yeager Blvd
Edwards AFB, CA 93524
DSN: 527-2826/7905
FAX: 527-5109
COMM: (661) 277-28267905
COMMFAX: (661) 277-5109

From: Toni Flynn [SMTP:toniflynn@earthlink.net]
Sent: Monday, October 15, 2001 9:17 AM
To: Armstrong Marshall L SSgt 95 SFS/SFOI
Subject: RE: Our Statement for the October 13th vigil

Dear SSgt. Marshall Armstrong:

This is just a note to let you know that the High Desert Catholic Worker group did vigil outside the West Gate entrance sign at EAFB on Saturday, Oct. 13. from 2-4pm. We were peaceful. We prayed for peace. We held signs near the highway. The vigil was without incident.

Thank you for your communications prior to the event.

Toni Flynn

Got it, thanks!

MARSHALL L ARMSTRONG, SSgt, USAF
95th Security Forces Investigations
105 E Yeager Blvd
Edwards AFB, CA 93524
DSN: 527-2826/7905
FAX: 527-5109
COMM: (661) 277-28267905
COMMFAX: (661) 277-5109

-----Original Message-----
From: Toni Flynn [SMTP:toniflynn@earthlink.net]
Sent: Wednesday, October 10, 2001 10:41 AM
To: marshall.armstrong@edwards.af.mil
Subject: Our Statement for the October 13th vigil

Dear Staff Sgt. Marshall Armstrong:

I know that you and others at the Base have a different view from ours - nonetheless, I send you the attached statement which we will be bringing with us to the vigil, so that you will know our standpoint. I honestly believe that we do share with you visions
of a better, safer world, though our means to achieve that goal may be very different. Thank you for receiving this ...

Sincerely,

Toni Flynn
High Desert Catholic Worker
PO Box 62
Valyermo, CA.
93563
661-944-2655



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