The Lawrence Livermore Laboratory  was established in 1952 at the height of the Cold War to meet urgent national security needs by advancing nuclear weapons science and technology. In 1982 a chemist named Leon Smith was dying of cancer and wrote a letter to the editor that was published  on the day he died. That letter is now part of this peace sculpture, erected the next year. The original statue was handcrafted of teak: the artist said that like peace, the teak would require regular maintenance but it deteriorated deteriorated badly over the years. In 2005 it was recast in bronze and rededicated in a ceremony attended by Livermore’s sister city, Snezhinsk, Russia, a center of the Russian nuclear program built around the”All-Russian Scientific Research Center of Technical Physics—Federal Nuclear Center”.  Smith’s letter said:

“In thousands of city squares throughout the country there are monuments to war. There are generals on their horses, with sabers in their hands, urging men to give up their lives. There are thousands of canons, waiting to be fired. This indicates one thrust of thinking in the United States. Instead, there should be monuments to peace so that everybody realizes what our true objectives should be. These are not the thoughts of a wide-eyed radical. I worked at the Lawrence Livermore Lab for 17 years. While I came here to work on Project Plowshare, a program for putting atomic energy to peaceful uses; when it ran out of funds, I worked on the design of nuclear weapons. I have never disagreed with the objective of self-defense. What I do disagree with is the continual push for overkill capacity. Knowing that the U.S. can wipe out every person on earth ten times over does not make me feel more secure. I urge the residents of this city to give serious thought to their city square and to their aims in life, and erect a monument to peace, not war.”

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