Daniel Ellsberg sent this statement to honor NAPF President David Krieger at the 36th Annual Evening for Peace.
I am intensely sorry that—having recently and, I hope, temporarily, lost my voice– I am unable to be here today in person, with so many of my friends, mentors and heroes who have come to honor David Krieger. But I am glad to have the opportunity to speak from my heart, about David and the work he has so long been pursuing.
There is no more important work in the world today than abolishing the ever-imminent danger of near-extinction of humanity posed by the existence of nuclear weapons.
Yes, obviously, beginning belatedly and urgently to avert the global danger of catastrophic climate change is comparably of the highest level of importance. Yet it is misleading to describe that overwhelming problem, as is too-often done lately, as the only “existential” threat to human survival. As everyone here today recognizes, there are at least two existential challenges, for one of which—the need to abolish nuclear weapons—David Krieger has been perhaps the most consistent, most eloquent prophetic voices of the last half century.
No one has more steadily and tenaciously focused us on that urgent objective than David. His appreciation of the need for a Nuclear Age Peace Foundation devoted single-mindedly to that pursuit was visionary. And the need is, if anything, even greater today.
That fact in itself is undoubtedly frustrating; to someone less suited than David for what appears at times a Sisyphean effort, it could be discouraging. Fortunately, we have had David Krieger and those he has encouraged and inspired to press on, against the current, to keep that vision alive. Its achievement, I believe, is essential to keeping the human project going.
David, I wish I were here to tell you and Carolee in person what your energy and dedication to the goal of keeping the human struggle going have meant to me and Patricia. It’s best expressed, it’s seemed to me, in lines by Stephen Spender in a poem entitled: “I think continually of those who were truly great.” The poem is in the past tense, which fortunately is not at all appropriate in this case. But the last verse, in particular, has always made me think of you (and of the many you have brought together today and in the past):
Near the snow, near the sun, in the highest fields,
See how these names are fêted by the waving grass
And by the streamers of white cloud
And whispers of wind in the listening sky.
The names of those who in their lives fought for life,
Who wore at their hearts the fire’s centre.
Born of the sun, they travelled a short while toward the sun
And left the vivid air signed with their honour.