Twenty years ago, almost to the day, the Berlin Wall fell. Before this happened, virtually no one thought it would be possible or that the Cold War would come to an end. And yet these seemingly impossible dreams occurred, and they did so not by magic but because there were largely unobserved efforts at work to bring about change. Marking this anniversary should remind us that change does happen and should give us added strength and incentive to carry on our work of seeking a world free of nuclear weapons.
At the Foundation we educate and advocate for peace. We seek to overcome obstacles of ignorance, apathy and hostility. We seek a world free of domination and double standards. First and foremost, we seek a world free of the omnicidal threat posed by nuclear weapons.
Our annual Evening for Peace is meant to accomplish three goals: to shine a light on peace leadership and world citizenship; to honor our deeply deserving awardees; and to inspire new peace leaders. We thank you all for being an important part of this Evening for Peace.
I want to give you a brief report on the State of the Foundation as we approach our 28th year.
Our membership has expanded to over 31,000 individuals and organizations.
Our Action Alert Network now has over 26,000 participants, who send messages on key issues to members of Congress and the Administration.
Our Sunflower e-Newsletter reaches people all over the world, keeping them abreast of important developments related to nuclear weapons and nuclear disarmament.
The Foundation’s latest DVD has been viewed more than 3,500 times online, and is now being shown in classrooms and on Public Access television stations across the country.
Earlier this year, we transmitted to the White House more than 200,000 signatures on our Appeal for US Leadership for a Nuclear Weapons Free World.
The Foundation has had more than 300 articles in the press so far this year.
The Foundation’s Swackhamer video contest this year drew more than 120 entries on the need for nuclear disarmament. These have been viewed online by more than 10,000 people.
Our Kelly Peace Poetry Awards had more than 2,000 poems this year. The winning poems for this year and previous years may be viewed at the Foundation’s WagingPeace.org website.
In the past two years we’ve edited and published two important anthologies on the need to abolish nuclear weapons: At the Nuclear Precipice: Catastrophe or Transformation? and The Challenge of Abolishing Nuclear Weapons.
This year we formed a new chapter of the Foundation in Silicon Valley, and we are excited about the enthusiasm they are bringing to their work.
Fellows of the Foundation, Daniel Ellsberg and Martin Hellman, are engaged in important research and writing projects.
We have a new Peace Leadership Program. Its director is Paul Chappell, a West Point graduate who is dedicated to building peace. Paul is doing an outstanding job in reaching out to people all over the country and encouraging them to engage in waging peace.
The rest of our staff is quite extraordinary as well. I’d like to take this opportunity to acknowledge their dedicated work day in and day out.
Vicki Stevenson is our ever cheerful receptionist and my assistant. She makes everyone feel at home at the Foundation and is also a superb editor.
Sharon Rossol is our talented and tireless office manager, who assures that our office runs smoothly.
Rick Wayman is our Director of Programs. He oversees our programs, supervises our interns, works on chapter development, updates our websites, and much, much more.
Steven Crandell is our Director of Development and Public Affairs. He is the person responsible for raising funds for the Foundation, and for our outreach to the media.
In addition to having a superb staff, the Foundation also has many enthusiastic interns, volunteers and supporters, and a dedicated Board of Directors. I bow to you all, and thank you deeply. Without you the Foundation could not have existed and grown as it has over the past 27 years.
In 2009, the Foundation has had a dramatically different environment in which to do our work. While we remain judiciously nonpartisan, we now have a US president who shares our vision. That is a major step forward. In Prague this year he said, “I state clearly and with conviction America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.” He also said that he wasn’t naïve and that this goal might not be reached in his lifetime. Nonetheless, our goals, if not our timeframe, are aligned. We will continue to urge the president to push forward toward a world free of nuclear weapons with a sense of urgency. This goal can be achieved over the next decade.
So that is where we stand. I’d like make just a few remarks about our theme this evening of Women for Peace.
First, it seems more natural for women, as child bearers, to protect and nurture life than to destroy it. We need their leadership in the areas of peace and nonviolence, and men need to do better at learning such perspectives.
Second, what woman would not prefer for her children and all children to have the opportunity to be fed, sheltered, educated and provided with health care, rather than sacrificed on the altar of war? The world is still spending nearly $1.5 trillion annually on military might, funds that could be far better used in meeting basic human needs.
Third, women have long been leaders in asserting themselves for a better and more peaceful world. In 1889, Bertha von Suttner wrote a book, Lay Down Your Arms. It was Suttner who convinced Alfred Nobel to establish the Nobel Peace Prizes, and who became the first female recipient of the prize in 1905. It was Eleanor Roosevelt who led the United Nations in creating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a document that is foundational for a peaceful future.
Fourth, a number of our sister organizations working for a peaceful world are women’s groups that have made a substantial contribution to building peace. A great example is Another Mother for Peace, which had the ironic and iconic tagline, “War is not healthy for children and other living things.”
Finally, in the past, the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation has honored some truly outstanding women, including Nobel Peace Laureates Mairead Corrigan Maguire and Jody Williams. We have also honored Mary Travers, Hafsat Abiola, Queen Noor of Jordan, Bianca Jagger, Anne Erlich, Helen Caldicott, and Elisabeth Mann Borgese.
We draw encouragement from the roles played by women in seeking to build a more decent world. Our 2009 honorees, Judith Mayotte and Riane Eisler, have made quiet but large and important contributions to building a better world. To all the young people who are with us for our Evening for Peace, please learn and take inspiration from these two extraordinary women, and know that your lives can make a true difference in our world.