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Tribute To New Jersey Peace Action

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

TRIBUTE TO NEW JERSEY PEACE ACTION -- (Extensions of Remarks - May 08, 2007)

* Mr. PASCRELL. Madam Speaker; I would like to call your attention to the work of an outstanding organization, New Jersey Peace Action, which will celebrate 50 years of activism in New Jersey at an anniversary reception on Sunday, May 6, 2007.

* It is only fitting that New Jersey Peace Action be honored in this, the permanent record of the greatest democracy ever known, for the very purpose of this organization is to help educate and engage New Jersey residents in the community and political activism. Their work helps Americans become informed and active in the democratic process.

* New Jersey Peace Action began as NJ SANE in 1957. That year the New York Times ran the headline ``We are facing a danger unlike any danger that has ever existed before,'' calling for an end to nuclear testing and asking Americans to redirect our energies, rediscover our moral strength and redefine our purpose. The National Committee for a SANE Nuclear Policy was formed, and its New Jersey signers became the base of NJ SANE. The following year, NJ SANE selected Dorothy Eldridge as chairperson. NJ local committees echoed National SANE campaign to end nuclear testing by exposing facts about radiation, and assumed a role as watchdog on an international crisis that threatened nuclear war.

* By 1960, NJ SANE had gained wide support. At four rallies they sponsored about ``Ending All Nuclear Theats--Our Best Chance for Peace,'' with Dr. Linus Pauling, they drew crowds of between 600 and 1000 people. In the next decade, the growth continued. Over 5,000 marchers took part in a 110-mile walk from McGuire Air Force Base to the UN to call for a permanent test-ban agreement with the USSR. NJ SANE campaigned to expose the true nature of nuclear war and end civil defense drills in schools. They worked to support President Kennedy's efforts toward a test-ban treaty, and when it was signed, continued opposition to drills in schools. Soon came the 1970s and efforts were turned to the crisis in Vietnam, and the group opened its first real office. Members marched on Washington, raised money for war-injured children in Vietnam, and began draft counseling in addition to other efforts. In 1975, NJ SANE successfully campaigned against President Ford's request for $522 million for the Indochina War. Soon Operation Transfer, a campaign to change national priorities, took off and NJ SANE supported two new coalitions, SEA Alliance and NJ Mobilization for Survival.

* As we entered the 1980s new issues emerged and NJ SANE remained on the front lines for peace. SANE responded to Iran and Afghanistan with a call to reason, emphasizing the development of safe renewable energy sources as alternatives to oil dependency. Nuclear freeze efforts strengthened, and the group became involved in issues concerning Central America. In 1986, SANE merged with the Nuclear Weapons Freeze locally and nationally. As we entered the 1990s, more issuesarose and S/F was there to face them. There were rallies against the Gulf War, focus turned to economic issues, and the first concert for peace was held. In 1992, NJ SANE/Freeze became NJ Peace Action for a Sane World. In 1997 Virginia Ahearn and Bob Bender became Co-Directors, and Virginia continued on to be Director.

* Soon NJ Peace Action entered the new millennium, with a new Director, Madelyn Hoffman. Right after September 11, 2001, NJ Peace Action began holding vigils, more than 100 of them, in 12 different locations in support of addressing the attacks through international law rather than military action. The focus soon became opposition to the Iraq War. NJPA participated in the largest anti-war demonstrations since the Vietnam years. Memorials were held for the dead in Iraq, and a Peace Education Workshop was held for families.

* Although some of the causes have changed throughout the years, a surprising number are still left to work for. The members of NJPA today are still working to eliminate nuclear weapons, and protect civil rights. They promote peaceful conflict resolution at all levels, and educate others in their communities by reaching out to them at community events, working closely with other groups to protest war and work for peace.

* The job of a United States Congressman involves much that is rewarding, yet nothing compares to learning about and recognizing the efforts of groups like New Jersey Peace Action.

* Madam Speaker, I ask that you join our colleagues, the members of the New Jersey Peace Action, all those who have been informed and motivated by their work, and me in recognizing the outstanding contributions of this group to not only New Jersey but our entire Nation.

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