I saw what looked like a carnival--a lot of stands like we see at the religious education conventions where the salespeople are selling books; the only difference was they were selling weapons instead of religious articles." Fr. John Mudd, pastor of Saints Paul and Augustine Catholic parish in Washington, D.C., was talking about his visit to the U.S. Army's "arms bazaar" at the Sheraton-Washington Hotel in 1978. Since that time, the various weapons expositions at the hotel have been restricted to Army, Navy, or Air Force Association members and U.S. and foreign military and government leaders, the associations' specially invited guests.
Over the last three years, the Campaign to Stop the Arms Bazaar, a coalition of religious groups and local churches, has prayed, leafletted, held silent candlelight vigils, and been arrested outside the Sheraton-Washington Hotel during the annual Air Force Association's (AFA) arms bazaar. According to Dana Mills Powell, who works full time with the Sojourners Peace Ministry and coordinates the Campaign to Stop the Arms Bazaar, the AFA's weapons show was singled out from the other arms bazaars "because of the nuclear threat, which is so much more a part of the Air Force than the Army."
And the nuclear threat was certainly visible in the exhibit hall.
Journalist Howard Moreland, an Air Force veteran, was able to join the AFA for a mere $13. Thus, he just walked into the arms bazaar this year: "The most dramatic thing I saw was a full-size mockup of an M-X missile nosecone, complete with 10 nuclear warheads. It was huge. It went all the way up to the ceiling," Moreland explained. "The only reason they didn't have actual weapons in there is because the Air Force weapons are too big to fit in the hall. If they could fit them in, they'd be in there. There were certainly a lot of full-size mockups."