Guntram Mueller, chair of Massachusetts Peace Action’s board of directors, presented the 2016 Peacebuilders Award to Rep. Jim McGovern on March 12 at our annual meeting. He made the following remarks:
In a large bureaucracy like Congress where it is normal to allow endless war, poverty and inequality to prevail, Jim McGovern stands out as a steadfast challenger to the status quo.
He has been a valued friend of the peace community since he has been in public life.
When he was an aide to Rep. Joseph Moakley and at the urging of local peace activists (some of whom are here today), Jim McGovern encouraged his boss to look into the war in El Salvador. He ended up leading the Moakley Commission Congressional Investigation into the murder of 6 Jesuit priests and two civilians in El Salvador in 1989. The investigation resulted in the implication of the El Salvadoran military. As a result there was a change in our foreign policy and future aid was conditioned on human rights.
Since his election to Congress in 1996 he has been one of Peace Action’s best friends on Capitol Hill. He has sponsored bills to strengthen the United Nations, to abolish nuclear weapons, to close the School of the Americas, and to limit the use of cluster munitions. He repeatedly introduced legislation for a timetable to withdraw from Afghanistan, and one year it almost passed. He called for a stop to arms sales to Sudan. He sponsored legislation to protect victims of the Colombian civil war. He voted against de-funding of the New Start Treaty. He voted against the Iraq war and has voted against multiple defense appropriations and authorizations.
We at Massachusetts Peace Action know that stopping US wars and reducing military budgets is very hard, but we keep on working at it because we believe peace is possible. It is good to know we have an ally on Capitol Hill. We know he will continue to speak truth to Congress to speak out against war and be our voice in Washington. He is the conscience of the House. For those of us who value cooperation, social justice, and human rights we are especially grateful for his advocacy. We thank Jim for consistently calling on Congress’s better angels, and for his tireless pursuit of peace.
Congressman McGovern, please accept our sincere thanks and appreciation with this PEACEBUILDERS AWARD.