Nuclear weapons still targeted on mid-Missouri

Members of Columbia Peaceworks assembled in Stephens Lake Park Saturday evening to raise awareness for nuclear disarmament.

On the 69th anniversary of the Hiroshima-Nagasaki bombings, a Columbia peace group lamented that thousands of nuclear weapons still pose an existential threat to the human race.

Peace Studies professor Bill Wickersham said few people realize that for many years, mid-Missouri was the target of hundreds of Soviet nuclear missiles.

"For well over 40 years, mid-Missouri was the prime target area," Wickersham said. "It was one of the prime target areas for nuclear instant extinction. Our missiles were here in 13 counties operated by Whiteman Air Force Base."

Wickerham said that during the Cold War, the missiles were designed to be launched from towns like Boonville and Versailles and would have reached targets in the Soviet Union within 30 minutes.

However, Wickersham said the threat has not gone away and everyone in mid-Missouri still faces annihilation.

"Whiteman still has hydrogen bombs on the B2's," Wickersham said. "We also have Boeing in St. Louis and Honeywell that makes most of the parts for the nuclear bombs in Kansas City."

Mark Haim of mid-Missouri Peaceworks said he has been engaging the community on the subject for years. He says as time goes on, fewer young people are aware of the threat facing them and that the threat of nuclear annihilation needs to remain in the public discourse.

"These are unthinkable weapons," Haim said. "These are useless weapons for any kind of reasonable engagement. You use them, you cause massive death and destruction, and the environmental consequences are unacceptable."

Haim said the world needs to learn a lesson from the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and end the nuclear crisis once and for all.

"We don't need to be spending the hundreds of billions of dollars a year that we are on weapons," Haim said. "We need to cut that excessive spending and redirect it into real security."

Songwriter Steve Jacobs said he urges young people to take up nuclear disarmament as a political cause.

"Follow the money," Jacobs said. "Look at where your tax money goes and see what the politicians are doing with it. See how they're accepting money to run for office from all of these people who are profiting off the pain and destruction of human beings and those societies. People need to look at that."

Peaceworks also writes about a number of other causes here.