The Lockheed Martin corporate headquarters is situated among the upper middle class houses and forests of office buildings in Montgomery County, one of this nation’s wealthiest. You might pass the fountainhead of this giant unknowingly. A tombstone like sign with faded flowers is all you see announcing one of the world’s mightiest defense contractors with 135,000 employees in 939 facilities in 56 nations.
Our group of fifteen Shine the Light witnessers arrive at 2:30 on this chilly afternoon by a Metro and bus ride. Our hooded mascot is dressed and tethered again by a rope. In single file we follow him back and forth in front of the tombstone sign praying silently. With tiny battery powered lights and flashlights we walk slowly, very slowly, for an hour and a half remembering our friends, the victims of the mighty airplanes, and secret weapons designed and built beyond the steel fence for the empire.
According to its web page Lockheed Martin specializes in aeronautics, electronics, information technology, integrated systems and space. Fifty-eight percent of its contract work is with the US Department of Defense. Another 22% is with the Government/Homeland Security, and 17% is international.
- Mr. and Ms Lockheed Martin can you tell me if the international part of your work includes the contract workers in Iraq who perform security work sometimes for a compensation that reaches as high as $1000 dollars per day according to reports?
- Mr. and Ms Lockheed Martin how do you feel about the performance of your weapons, what you call the kill factor?
- Mr. and Ms Lockheed Martin, what do you think about the life factor of this earth?
In 2004 Lockheed Martin did 35.5 Billion dollars worth of business sales but its literature says that it has a backlog of $74 billion which I assume is government contracts to develop future advanced weapons and communication systems.
But here in the verdant rolling hills of suburban Montgomery County it all looks and feels very innocent. The side walks and roads are fresh and new at Lockheed. When I walk down the entry way toward the corporate nerve center I discover a guard post after 75 yards. I suggest to the guards that there is ample space for us to walk the sidewalks of the inner corridors. Their horrified looks tell me immediately that it won’t happen on this day. I explain our presence and our concerns. I say that we would be pleased to speak with the management and they refuse to answer. Threads for conversation seem to flutter away in the cold January wind. As I depart, I ask the guards if they provide hot chocolate for guests like us. They refused the opportunity but the smile on their face suggested that they were warmed by the thought.
Public toilet facilities are very scarce outside the core of Lockheed’s brain trust. By 4:00 we are off to conclude our day’s prayers in front of the White House as has been our custom for the last 10 days. Our group of silent vigilers is joined by representatives of a well known health research institute today. When their prayers are completed I ask them if they could run their computer programs to help us know how many weeks, minutes, seconds, or milliseconds our presence on this day may have helped humankind to preserve life? They smile and return to their offices but they didn’t say NO. Despite the cold and wind on this day we performed the work of mystery of light and we know it cannot be put out. I hope it awakens thousands of peaceful imaginations waiting to break out, including 135,000 hopeful imaginations tethered by advanced communications to the nerve center of Lockheed Martin.