Stop The Bombs International Peace Walk
Day 23 - Sunday April 3rd, 2005
Bedford VA to Lynchburg Va


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     A cool morning again became a sweltering hot day as we continued our walk along highway 221.

   Some good news was that KA returned to walking today , recovering from a double ear infection and walking determinedly, if a little shaky at times. It was great to hear her laughter down the line again : )

   We were accompanied all day by Everett, who would stop his car periodically along the road to wave, hold his placard, offer water and play saxaphone to us !

   He guided us into Lynchburg college where we met Anne, who had organised our dinner , showers and accomodation in the gymnasium. Anne is married to Chris, who is the Pastor at the Church of the Resurrection where we stayed last night. A few people joined us for the walk through the college grounds and many students and staff stopped to ask why we were walking.

   Freshly showered we wandered across campus to dinner, a first time experience for me eating in an american college cafeteria ! Buffet delux ! What a selection of salad ! And still many people choosing mystery meat and 6 different colours of fizzy drink ...i guess they don't expect to be walking 20 miles the next day with that in their bellies ! We had a great time filling up our plates , and eating with a few of the students and friends of Anne who had come to meet us and also write articles for the college paper.

   The Lynchburg Mayor came down to personally collect his "Mayors for Peace" package, which he was enthusiastic to endorse. After chatting for a while, he left us with a beautiful song and encouragement to stay strong on the journey.

   We piled into cars and travelled out to the nearby BWXT nuclear facility, which Everett was keen to have us visit. His peace action group holds regular vigils at the plant, which has supplied nuclear components for Department of Energy programmes since the 1950's. The US Navy uses components manufactured here for its nuclear subs and this facility is also the largest domestic supplier of research reactor fuel elements for colleges, universities and national laboratories. The Nuclear Products Division also provides uranium used for medical isotopes, and converts or downblends high-enriched uranium into low-enriched fuel for use in commercial reactors to generate electricity.Around 2 100 people are employed here and this is one of the 2 commercial facilities in the US licensed to possess and process highly enriched uranium. The 2003 revenue from this deadly facility was $334 million.

   We approached the curbside lawn of the plant on foot and it felt strong to be carrying our flags and banner along with our fears and outrage at what lay behind the gates. We gathered on the road side of the facilily's sign as the sun set in the valley behind. The floodlights of BWXT were any eerie addition to the fading hues of a beautiful sunset. We sat in vigil and prayer in our own ways. Chanting, drumming, singing, praying, offering tobacco, playing music, silent, bowed or standing- we were all present in witness to the merchanting of death behind the barbed gates. (In) security took at least 5 minutes to come and visit our group, the head of the band quickly grabbing his M-16 , apparently unlocking the safety catch as he spoke with Bilbo and Everett.... He asserted that we were respassing, even though we were well bwhind the company sign, as was most concerned that watch guards had seen flash photography. Though there are no signs announcing it, it is apparently illegal to photograph the installation... security approached the group demanding that digital photos be erased and film handed over ... by this stage we had finished our vigil and moved over to where our cars were parked at the bank, which is out of the jurisdiction of the guards. We assured them we did not have any photos of the facility, just of our group and the sign. They had been quite aggressive in their approach (how strange for Wackenhut !!) but stood back and walked away as we closed them off with our finishing circle.

   We convoyed back to Lynchburg College and collapsed, jumped and dove into bed to get as many zzz's as possible before the next walking began.....

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