December 5, 2011
By Harry Kelber
For 30 years, in torrid summers and freezing winters, in hurricanes, snowstorms, and sub-zero weather, this indominateable woman lives in a small patch in front of Lafayette Park on the sidewalk across from the White House. Her day-and-night anti-nuclear peace vigil is perhaps the longest continual civic-political protest in U.S. history.
Her strong survival capacities and resilience under physical and verbal abuse, “The Little Giant” as she has been described, came to America from Spain as a young woman and joined the William Thomas peace vigil encampment in 1981. (Mr. Thomas died in 2009).
Concepcion’s strong-willed defense of free speech has won her the admiration of people around the world. From her position across the White House, she has offered her written messages as daily reminders that nuclear weapons of mass destruction are the ultimate insanity. Not one president has deigned to speak with her or through emissaries.
But the National Park Service Police continues a harassing watch for opportunities to evict her, should any regulation be broken, such as stretching for some sleep. Concepcion must perch on a wooden crate for catnaps through the night or pace back and forth to keep from freezing.
She and Mr. Thomas prevailed in court to keep the signs in front of the White House: “Live by the Bomb. Die by the Bomb.” Undaunted by the unimaginable hardships of her 24-hour-per-day sidewalk life of protest, she challenges the many tourists from all over the world who daily pass by her headquarters — to choose peace over war, violence and nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.
Concepcion believes that “if the people have what they need, there would be no need to fight.” Asked why she persists in her exhausting efforts, she replies simply: “For the children” who must be taught to respect and value LIFE, not material things.
”A concluding statement by Katherine Raymond, Assistant to Ralph Nader, Center for Study of Responsive Law:
“We applaud her passionate journey, her deep caring for a peaceful future and for maintaining the ramparts at her White House Protest site—Peace Park Anti-Nuclear Vigil. We thank her for urging in imaginative ways that we choose sane policies shaped by the philosophy that enduring national strength comes through peace.”