Q&A: Mary Findley, Co-Author of Youth Declaration Presented at a Peace Rally April at the Y12 Nuclear Weapons Complex

Is it important for this declaration to be coming from young people?

Yes—we are the next generation of leaders and decision makers and have the power in our hands to determine whether or not we wish to live in a country that maintains a stockpile of nuclear weapons.

Did you focus on Y-12 for the rally because it's nearby?

The Y-12 National Security Complex is the last full-scale weapons production plant in the country, and so we gathered there in protest of the continued production of nuclear weapons—and the Department of Energy's March 4 announcement of plans to build a new weapons plant that will cost $6.5 billion, including a new facility. Another youth and I read the declaration at the rally and asked all the participants to sign an enlarged copy of our declaration, and we will be sending it to President Obama.

How old are you?

I'm 21, and a senior at UT.

Are you from this area?

I've lived in East Tennessee 12 years.

Did any of your family or friends work on the Manhattan Project?

Not that I know of. My father is a semi-retired safety engineer who used to work at Y-12, but he's still proud of what I'm doing. He also worked at many of the other weapons plants throughout the country, but primarily at dismantling equipment and weapons; now that's all been consolidated to Y-12. My dad's moved on to other work. He was overseeing oil cleaning in the Gulf this summer.

What's your favorite part of the declaration?

The line, "We renounce the false security of nuclear weapons, rejecting their use as a means for national defense."

How did you get involved with nuclear protest?

I was a member of Tennessee Alternatives to the Death Penalty, and through my work with them, I met Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance organizer Ralph Hutchinson. I kind of run in the non-violence circles in Knoxville.

For more information: orepa.org