Hedy Epstein wrote letters, marched, gave speeches, risked arrest, experienced the indignity of arrest and still worked tirelessly to create a peaceful existence between people and peace between nations. She actively opposed the U.S. war in Vietnam and devoted countless hours to the Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign as a member of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) board and co-chair of the St. Louis chapter of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF.) Hedy was working as a paralegal in 1982 but still found time to help build a St. Louis Nuclear Weapons Freeze campaign with a goal of gathering 10,000 signatures in each of the three St Louis congressional districts and to organize 130 house meetings. With assistance from several others, she successfully secured the signatures on the petitions in six weeks and ran many of the house meetings herself. Along with hundreds of others, Hedy marched from the campus of St. Louis University to the Gateway Arch and presented the petitions to Senators Harriet Woods and Thomas Eagleton and representatives of the members of the St. Louis congressional delegation.
Hedy demonstrated against the U.S. intervention in Central America which she believed led to displacement and deaths throughout that region and proudly supported the Sanctuary Movement in St. Louis. Hedy demonstrated against the 1990-91 Gulf War, the crippling sanctions that followed which created tragic hardships for the Iraqi people while leaving those in power unscathed. In 1998 she protested the bombing of Iraq at the gates of Scott Air Force Base in Illinois, and continued to voice outrage when Afghanistan was bombed in October 2001 followed by the March 2003 “shock and awe” that began the Iraq War. Hedy was consistent in her beliefs that the bombings, like the sanctions, hurt the innocents, turned non-combatants into collateral damage and were crimes against humanity. She was a war tax resistor for many years and a vocal advocate for demilitarization. Many of her letters, reflections and speeches have been preserved and are found at the following links.
On the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, Hedy wrote the following reflection.
Hedy Epstein was one of the conveners, along with 100 citizens and several organizations, of the April 4, 1993 People’s Tribunal held in St. Louis, Missouri on the campus of St. Louis University. The Tribunal was an outgrowth of the conviction of her friend and local peace activist, Bill Ramsey, for distributing information on federal spending in an IRS waiting room and refusing to leave when asked. Hedy opened the Tribunal with the these remarks.
Below is the draft copy of a speech Hedy gave in St. Louis Missouri in 1995 at the 50th anniversary commemoration of the U.S. bombing of Hiroshima. The event marked the first time the horror of a nuclear bomb was unleashed on Earth. A few of the technical details of the government’s proposal to deploy nuclear weapons in space were inaccurate but the point of the speech, that nuclear weapons anywhere, including space, were a danger to humanity, cannot be disputed.
Following is a speech given by Hedy Epstein at “Resisting the War, a Forum for a Just Peace” held in St. Louis, Missouri on October 7, 2001.
Hedy’s November 11, 2011 Veterans’ Day reflection asks, “How do we truly honor them?”