PEACE PROBE by Gene Stoltzfus


Shine the Light: Andrews Air Force Base by peaceprobe
January 22, 2006, 10:07 am
Filed under: Shine the Light: Wash. DC

Andrews Air Force Base

Andrews Air Force Base is always in the news because the Presidential Jet takes off and returns from there. Its web page says that Andrew’s AFB mission has a mission, to provide a home for transportation for the President, the Vice President and other senior administration officials. As one travels to this Maryland base, east of the Washington DC, passenger helicopters can be seen coming and going. At the main entrance a huge water tank dominates the air space close to the entry way at Suitland Avenue. In the shadows of the tank is a tastefully constructed sign, Model Environmental Community presumably placed there to modulate some of the harsher realities of the work of the base, logistical support for fighters at the front. Across the street from the main gateway America also announces it is present with a Holiday Inn and a McDonald’s fast food outlet. 

Our friends had warned us that there is little tolerance for public witness in the vicinity without risking immediate arrest by base or metropolitan police. We approached our time there methodically, first by parking at a distant shopping mall and then walking several blocks to our vigil site, on the side of the main road leading into Andrews. Visibility was good but it is virtually impossible to hand out leaflets to motorists, many of whom entered the base area by passing through high tech, automated guard posts.

After a time, police cars began to pass us and a security helicopter circled over head reminding us that we had been noticed. I felt tiny in the swirl of air and noise of traffic, helicopters and airplanes all apparently doing our nation’s work. It was a beautiful sunny day so I believe that the natural elements helped our us shine light. Should we have tried to enter the base? Should we have tried to be more assertive, more militant in the spirit of scriptures – Ephesians chapter 6. There were about 15 of us who processed behind our sign, SHINE THE LIGHT, as a few motorists tooted their horns in support.

Recent vintage shiny SUVs reminded me of the millions of people whose lives are dependent upon the work of national security. What will happen to these people and their families when the economy of national security is replaced by an economy of life for the common good? Neighbors told us of the periodic drone of air transport planes departing Andrews and other nearby bases since the war in Iraq began in 2003. In the distance we could see these planes still departing, some with weapons, ammunition and support for the front in Iraq and Afghanistan; other planes took off for another front line, the administration’s information and communication campaign to make believers of us all.

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