Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
October 29, 2001
Pentagon symbolizes threat to human life
On Sept. 11 a hijacked plane crashed into the Pentagon building, killing everyone on board and in its path.
For many Americans the Pentagon is the fortress of "enduring freedom." From within its walls the orders flow to protect the security and values of the free world.
For people at the receiving end of its operations, the Pentagon stands for, "enduring terror." Hence the plane crash. Horrific as this criminal act was, it pales in comparison to the horror the Pentagon has unleashed in decades. This perhaps is not generally known.
It is not only alleged Muslim terrorists who would like to see the Pentagon power diminished. For 14 years, since August 1987, members and friends of the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker in Washington have held a weekly prayer vigil in front of what they identify as "the most powerful and dangerous centre of war-making on our planet."
Until two years ago, the vigil was held on Mondays from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. in front of the south entrance. Then the Pentagon embarked on a $1.2 billion renovation. The vigil moved to the new pedestrian ramp.
The police ordered them to leave the area or face arrest. The prayer group then moved to the sidewalk, but the police informed them that they needed a permit and that all banners and signs needed prior approval by the Pentagon management office.
For reasons of conscience the small group of activists refused to comply with the request. For a year and a half the issue was no longer raised.
This changed on April 16, 2001, when holding a sign, passing out a leaflet, singing, or talking to Pentagon employees became arrestable offences.
Two protests had taken place before the April 16 decree.
The first was a demonstration organized by the School of the Americas Watch on April 2. Four people poured blood inside the Pentagon Metro entrance, while five others used red paint to make outlines of victims killed by the U.S.-backed Colombian military.
The second protest took place on April 13, Good Friday, during a Holy Week faith and resistance retreat. Six retreatants poured their own blood on nine pillars of the Pentagon river entrance.
The Pentagon SWAT team, dressed in riot gear ordered some 60 retreatants to leave the grounds or face arrest. Several people were arrested and others were warned not to hold hands or sing hymns, for they were "disturbing the workplace" and were "creating a hostile environment."
As they hold their vigil, the participants repent for their own complicity in the culture of violence. They witness for the voiceless poor and the countless victims of the Pentagon war machine - from Iraq to Vieques to Colombia.
They pray for the children and future generations, for the elimination of all weapons and an end to military intervention around the world.
They pray for an end to U.S. plans to dominate and militarize space; the abolition of war and a stop to the environmental devastation caused by the Pentagon and the Department of Energy.
They pray for economic justice and work toward the day when the Pentagon will be converted into a hospital, a centre for non-violent conflict resolution and a bakery to feed the homeless.
They also pray for us, and people around the world, that God's spirit of love will transform our hearts, so that we may truly reverence life and resist the forces of violence that endanger life, and establish a world where peace and justice reigns.
Since Sept. 11 and the subsequent violence on our way to Kabul, it is hoped we'll discover the road to Damascus.
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