by Marleen Wallingford
August 6th commemorates the 69th anniversary of the first and only time nuclear weapons were detonated on human populations. The United State government chose to unleash these super bombs because it was widely believed that this drastic action was necessary to bring an end to the war in the Pacific. Not only were thousands of people killed in an instant, the horror of the event traumatized many more Japanese citizens. The United States government still has to deal with the environmental disaster the production of these nuclear weapons have created. Oregon Physician’s for Social Responsibility a non-profit organization which works to protect human life from threats to health has partnered with local Nikkei and peace and justice organizations to remember the hundreds of thousands of Japanese people who died and suffered because of man’s inhumanity to man. As Chisao Hata, the emcee for this event, related, that all humans make choices and our choices can be good or bad. Chisao has participated in the remembrance activities since the 1980’s and last year had an opportunity to perform at the annual commemoration in Hiroshima. She is also active in a group called, Ground Zero, which is committed to ending the use and proliferation of nuclear weapons.
Representative Earl Blumenauer who has worked to limit funding for nuclear weapons spoke about his efforts to move those monies from production to clean-up. Ann Wright, a former Army Colonel, and now peace activist advocated for the complete elimination of the nuclear weapons program. Putting millions of dollars into nuclear programs is completely unnecessary and a waste of taxpayer dollars. She spoke about three activists, including Sister Megan Rice who are now in federal prison because they were able to climb and crawl to a nuclear facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee and put peace signs up on the fence. Ann also spoke about the little boat, The Golden Rule, which tried to go sailing to the Marshall Islands to prevent the detonation and testing of nuclear weapons. The boat only went five miles from Honolulu where its captain and crew members were arrested. This boat has been found in Humboldt County but badly damaged. The hope now is to renovate the vessel and use it as an educational tool so that children can find out about the horrible effects of the bombs on two Japanese cities.
An energetic performance of drumming was given by enTaiko, a group of elementary and middle school students. Anna Daedalus and Kerry Davis, local artists, unfurled their River Shadow Scroll which highlighted the connections between the Columbia River, Hanford, Fukushima, Hiroshima and nuclear weapons. Special guest was the Consul General of Japan, Hiroshi Furusawa.
Remembering Hiroshima: A Japanese boy floats a small lantern on a river near ground zero in Hiroshima to mark the 69th anniversary of the US atomic bombing.
This Day of Remembrance provides an opportunity for reflection and action: How are we treating others? How are we treating our home, the planet Earth? What can we do to make the world a better and safer place?