Onboard the USS Missouri off Japan August 6, 1945, 18 year-old PFC Jerry Pedersen listened as the loudspeaker announced an ‘Atomic bomb’ had just been dropped on Hiroshima instantly destroying a city of 200,000 people. The whole world changed that day, he sensed.
Then September 2nd, as Honor Guard for the Japanese Surrender Signing he heard General MacArthur declare:
“A new era is upon us. The utter destructiveness of war now blots out this alternative… We must go forward to secure in peace what we have won in war!”
Those moments culminated in his calling—to be a ‘peacemaker’. Few can share a historical perspective so powerful, calling hearts and minds to wrestle with continuing justifications for war and the pursuit of peace.
From East Africa University chaplain in newly independent Tanzania to San Francisco State University 1968 and his arrest during student protest, to growing a large conservative Orange County congregation with social justice workshops, to ‘Witness for Peace’ in Nicaragua, through today’s ‘war on terrorism’ – this is Dr. Pedersen’s inspiring journey, from war to peacemaking. Peacemaking as found at the center of the world’s great religions and 20th century ‘Active Nonviolence’ movements.
It's our unfinished journey as we remain on a perilous precipice of permanent war looking for another way.