Joan B. Kroc, owner of the San Diego Padres and an outspoken leader in the movement against the buildup of nuclear weapons, spent $400,000 on full-page advertisements that ran in 23 major newspapers across the nation Thursday. The ad quotes President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s condemnation of the arms race.
The ad, which appeared on the traditional Memorial Day, featured an excerpt from the late general’s famous 1953 speech to the American Society of Newspaper Editors, in which he said, “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed.
“This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children . . . . This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.”
In addition, the widow of McDonald’s restaurants founder Ray Kroc and a major stockholder in the fast-food chain urged those who agree with Eisenhower’s statement to send the ad and their comments to their U.S. representatives and senators. Among the newspapers that carried the ad were the Los Angeles Times, San Diego Union, San Diego Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Examiner, New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Newsday, Chicago Tribune, Miami Herald, Denver Post, Philadelphia Inquirer, Kansas City Star, Minneapolis Star and Tribune, Detroit Free Press and Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Kroc, who for several years has been vocal in opposing the nuclear arms buildup, was traveling to New York on Thursday en route to a vacation in Europe and was not available for comment. But Mike Sund, a spokesman for the Joan B. Kroc Foundation, released a statement in which Kroc says, “I have been blessed with the means to put my convictions to work, and no conviction I have is greater than that nothing makes sense in our lives unless we create the basis for a decent and workable peace in the world.
“We are sliding toward a total breakdown of human society, because we are giving less attention to the need to protect the rights of generations to come than we are giving to our lawns or swimming pools.”
Sund said Kroc believes “that it is important for American citizens to act and speak out on this issue. Starvation around the world and issues such as the loss of Social Security benefits at home are just some of the prices we are paying in the name of defense and security.”
Kroc supports bilateral nuclear disarmament. “She is not suggesting that America should disarm itself and see what the Soviets do,” Sund said.
The ads are the first step in what promises to be a lengthy campaign waged by Kroc against arms race.
On Aug. 6, Kroc will be in Hiroshima for the 40th anniversary of the detonation of the first nuclear weapon used in warfare, Sund said. There, she will join other leaders of the peace movement from around the world in urging a bilateral cessation of nuclear weapons testing.
In addition, Sund said, Kroc has commissioned the printing of 500,000 paperback copies of “Missile Envy,” a book written by Dr. Helen Caldicott, founder of Physicians for Social Responsibility and a longtime leader in the drive for nuclear disarmament. The books, Sund said, should be printed within several months and will be distributed to prominent educators, government officials and opinion makers throughout the country.
Sund said the foundation plans to check the response to the ad with people in Congress, but that, “practically speaking, there is no way to tally it.”
The Kroc Foundation offices were “flooded with calls from around the country” Thursday, Sund said. Most of the callers supported Kroc’s stand, “although three or four questioned her standing to do such a thing.”
“Our reply is that we live in a country where Mrs. Kroc is free to express her opinion, just as those who oppose her are free to express theirs,” Sund said.