Council Celebrates Third Annual Drinan Peace and Human Rights Award

Left to Right: Council Chief Operating Officer Guy Stevens, Executive Director John Isaacs, Gus Schiff, actor Richard Schiff and Center Chairman Lt. Gen. Robert Gard

On July 16th, 2008, nearly 80 Council for a Livable World and Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation supporters, staff, friends and Members of Congress gathered to celebrate the Council’s annual Father Robert F. Drinan National Peace and Human Rights Awards. For the past three years, the Council and Center have awarded prominent individuals who exemplify a strong commitment to peace and justice and act in the spirit of the late Father Drinan, a former Member of Congress and religious official who worked tirelessly to promote peace issues.

This year’s honorees are well-known for their work on social and political issues. Senator Dianne Feinstein has been consistent champion of nuclear non-proliferation. Congressman John Hall (former member of the band Orleans) co-founded Musicians United for Safe Energy. Actor Richard Schiff, who played Toby Ziegler in the popular political television drama The West Wing, has been an outspoken critic of the Iraq War, joining protests across the country.

Peace PAC Chair and former Rep. Pat Schroeder speaks about the difficulties facing the next President

John Isaacs, the Council’s Executive Director, was the emcee for the event and introduced the evening’s first speaker and award presenter, Council for a Livable World Peace PAC Chair and former Rep. Pat Schroeder (D-CO). Schroeder spoke of the great challenges facing the next president, who, as she noted, must get the country back on track after eight years of disastrous foreign and national security policies. With those challenges in mind, Schroeder introduced the Council’s first honoree, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), a leader and expert on nuclear weapons issues who is also dedicated to bringing our troops home from Iraq.

Sen. Feinstein spoke of the difficulties of fighting eight years of Bush Administration proposals for a succession of new nuclear weapons programs inspired by a terribly misguided Nuclear Posture Review. She mentioned fighting the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator (nuclear bunker buster), the Advanced Concept Initiative and the Reliable Replacement Warhead – but winning every year. Feinstein said she is committed to ensuring that the United States does not open the door to greater nuclear proliferation, the central mission of Council for a Livable World.

Executive Director John Isaacs honors Sen. Dianne Feinstein with the Drinan award.

Following Feinstein’s speech, Sen. Bernie Sanders addressed the crowd and shifted the discussion from nuclear weapons to the U.S. military budget. Sanders noted that with the money America spends on one week of the war in Iraq, the United States could ensure that every man, woman and child in the United States has primary health care. He also mentioned Vermont’s new claim-to-fame: it’s the only state that Bush has never visited in his time in the White House – a fact that drew laughs and cheers from the audience.

The closing presenter at the Drinan Awards was Lt. Gen. Robert Gard, the chair of the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. Gen. Gard presented the final award to actor Richard Schiff – best known for playing the role of Toby Ziegler in the show The West Wing – for his long dedication to the anti-war movement, starting in Vietnam and continuing today against the war in Iraq.

Sen. Bernie Sanders talks about the often wasteful spending of the U.S. Defense Department.

Mr. Schiff concluded the program by giving a moving speech about his decades of work on the anti-war movement and called upon the crowd to continue working to mobilize the American public against the war in Iraq and to continue working for peace. He said he has been disappointed that there are fewer people marching on the streets to protest the Iraq War compared to the Vietnam War – which he attributed in part to the lack of a draft.

The third recipient of the Drinan award was Congressman John Hall (D-NY). Unfortunately Rep. Hall was called away from the reception for a vote in the House of Representatives. His award will be presented to him by Guy Stevens, Director of Council for a Livable World’s PeacePAC, in his congressional office on July 24th.

Center Chair Gen. Robert Gard awards actor Richard Schiff with the Drinan award

The evening was truly a celebration of all of those who are committed – including the honorees and Council staff, supporters and friends – to work for peace and justice to create a more livable world and a worthy tribute to Father Robert Drinan.

For more information on the Drinan award and past recipients, click here.

For additional information, please contact Napoleon Hendrix at 202-243-4100, ext. 2113.