Catholic Worker Steve Baggarly’s Y-12 Sentencing Statement

The y-12 plant in Oak Ridge enriched the uranium that is contained in every nuclear warhead in the United States’ arsenal. It first produced weapons-grade uranium for the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan on August 6, 1945. Kozo Itagaki was one mile from ground zero on that day:

Victims of the blast seemed like ghosts, without a vestige of clothing on their sore and burned bodies and it was hard to distinguish their sex if you didn’t take a close look. They were tottering toward the park, avoiding people who had sunk to the ground. They were asking for help and water in a faint voice, with their arms held out, with their skin peeled and hung down like potato skins. Supposedly they thought there must be some remedy if they could reach the top of the hill. But the next morning those who finally reached the top were dead, falling one upon another without being able to get medical treatment.

Together with some relatively healthy soldiers I spent days relieving injured people in the city, collecting corpses, burying and incinerating them, putting ashes in order, and so on. At around noon four days after the incident, when we were at rest, a boy (he looked like a third grader) came up with tottering steps and said, “Soldier, please give me water.” I looked at him and saw that the boy had a sign of jaundice. He also showed signs of dehydration. His hair had partly fallen out. Everyone there agreed that if he drank water he would die. I said I would bring him some a little later, and told him to lie down under the tree for a while. And we proceeded with our conversation. Suddenly I noticed the boy drinking sewage with his head down deep in the gutter nearby. He soon died.

Now I am a parent of a child and whenever I recall the happenings I imagine how hard the boy was crying for Father and Mother in his heart, or if the parents had been on the spot how much they would have felt frantic; and I regret that I didn’t let him drink water there and then.

In Hiroshima, 100,000 people were killed instantly and another 100,000 died painful deaths within the next few months. Just the US nuclear weapons ready for launching right now have over 55,000 times the explosive power of that first bomb, and there are more in reserve. As it is, the government is building three new nuclear bomb plants, including one at Oak Ridge, and is in the process of rehabbing and upgrading every weapon in its stockpile to make them even more powerful and to ensure they last into the next century. Through Y-12 nuclear weapons complex the Department of Energy, the US military, Congress, the Federal Courts, the White House and the American people conspire daily in preparation and rehearsal for the end of the world.

If the nation doesn’t repent of its nuclear idolatry, we won’t even have the luxury of feeling regret should anything like the following words of Jimmy Carter come to be:
In an all-out nuclear war, more destructive power than all of World War II would be unleashed every second during the long afternoon it would take for the missiles and bombs to fall. A World War II every second—more people killed in the first hours than all the wars in history put together. The survivors, if any, would live in despair amid the ruins of a civilization that had committed suicide.

That such a possibility exists in a world filled with children is unspeakable evil. The United States, as inventor of nuclear weapons, the only nation ever to use them on human beings, and as perpetual leader in the nuclear arms race, bears the greatest responsibility to ensure such mass suicide never happens. At this critical time in history, if there is to be any hope for stopping the proliferation of nuclear weapons and moving toward a nuclear weapons-free world, the United States must make good on international commitments to disarm. It must act in spite of fear. With Manhattan Project-like relentlessness, we must lead the world in a nuclear DIS-armament race.

If we as a people stop putting our faith in gods of metal, our trust in superior firepower, seeking salvation in the DEATH OF EVERYTHING… If we depart from evil and do good, seek peace and pursue it, I believe we will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

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