City Council passed a resolution on Tuesday recognizing the International Day of Peace next month and calling on the U.S. government to redirect military spending to domestic and humanitarian needs.
Activist Brad Wolf is co-founder of Peace Action Network of Lancaster, which advocated for the resolution. He told council members they were enacting it on “a very appropriate day”: Aug. 9 marked the 77th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki at the end of World War II.
Today, the world stands closer than it ever has to a nuclear exchange, he said: “If we think that nuclear war cannot happen, we only need remind ourselves that it already has.”
Established in 1981 by the United Nations, the International Day of Peace is celebrated annually on Sept. 21. This year’s theme is “End Racism. Build Peace.”
The hundreds of billions of dollars that the U.S. spends on its military each year represents a huge wasted opportunity, said Harold Penner, a member of Peace Action Network and 1040 for Peace, which advocates for underpaying taxes by $10.40 as a form of protest.
Redirecting military spending to civilian uses could pay for the hiring of thousands of schoolteachers and nurses in Lancaster County. It could support veterans’ benefits, clean energy jobs and public housing, “and the list goes on,” he said.
Dr. Ajay Marwaha recommended establishing a community festival to promote the International Day of Peace.
The holiday envisions “a nonviolent and a love-based community that is striving for justice,” he said. “We all want to see that.”