Sam Day Memorial Peace-maker Award Goes to Vanunu

by Gail Vaughn

The late Sam Day was instrumental to the founding of the Lakes and Prairies Life Community, a network of antinuclear activists and resisters in the American midwest. Day's own decades-long fight against nuclear secrecy as journalist, activist, resister, and political prisoner has been an inspiration to many antinuclear activists. When he died suddenly at his Wisconsin home in January, 2001, Sam was hard at work coordinating the U.S. Campaign to Free Mordechai Vanunu.

The Lakes and Prairies Life Community recently honored Day by creating the Sam Day Memorial Peacemaker Award given at the community's semi-annual gathering, held May 3-5 in Ferryville, Wisconsin. It was appropriately awarded to Mordechai Vanunu, who has paid arguably the highest price of any living whistleblower, having spent 15 years in prison for notifying the world about Israel's nuclear weapons.

The award was presented by Joe Gump, a friend of Sam's and anti-nuclear activist. Mordechai's adoptive parents, Mary and Nick Eoloff, came to accept the award on their imprisoned son's behalf. Their words were moving and heartfelt. Sam's wife, Kathleen Day, and one of their sons, Joshua Day, also came and provided poignant remarks. After the presentation, the BBC video about Vanunu was shown to the audience.

The entire gathering focused on issues of nuclear safety and its personal cost to whistleblowers. Ann Harris, a former employee of the Tennessee Valley Authority, the largest government owned utility in the U.S., spoke of the difficulties encountered by workers who dare to expose the reality of unsafe working conditions: harassment by management; ostracism by co-workers; death threats; financial hardships; even animosity at times from some anti-nuclear advocates, those who view all nuclear power plant employees as "the enemy." Also present was Vera English, for whom the national law protecting nuclear whistleblowers was written, as a result of the case English vs. General Electric. Vera is still paying the price for her conscientious witness.

[Gail Vaughn, a long-time peace and anti-nuclear activist, has spent many volunteer hours designing and updating the website of the U.S. Campaign to Free Mordechai Vanunu.]