"O say can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hail'd at the twilight's last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight
O'er the ramparts we watch'd were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air" ...
But, wait! Are we singing happily, even proudly, about bombs when nuclear weapons remain a constant threat on our fragile planet and the hands of the Doomsday Clock are set at two and a half minutes before midnight?
The Pentagon has a "Life Extension Program" (begun by the Obama administration) to spend $1 trillion over the next 30 years modernizing the U.S. nuclear weapons program. Alice Slater of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation calls it "the Pentagon's Life Extinction program because it brings the world closer to nuclear war, which would be the end of life ultimately for our planet as we know it."
Is this a way to maintain the "military industrial complex," and the billions of dollars of profits made by corporations like Boeing, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, GenCorp Aerojet, Huntington Ingalls and Lockheed Martin?
From The Nation magazine: "Given the process and the profits, the weapons contractors have a vested interest in ensuring that the American public has a heightened sense of danger and insecurity (even as they themselves have become a leading source of such danger and insecurity). Recently, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) produced a striking report, 'Don't Bank on the Bomb,' documenting the major corporate contractors and their investors who will reap those mega-profits from the coming nuclear weapons upgrades."
Remember that it isn't the Pentagon that has the responsibility for development, production and maintenance of nuclear weapons. It is the Department of Energy and weapons labs: Los Alamos National Lab and Sandia National Lab in New Mexico and Lawrence Livermore National Lab in California.
And speaking of doomsday, Pentagon whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg has a remarkable new book, "The Doomsday Machine — Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner."
Come watch an unforgettable movie, "Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb," at 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 25, at the Trident Coffee Shop and Bookstore on the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder.
The Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center's "Peace Train" runs every Friday in the Colorado Daily.