Annual Hiroshima/Nagasaki Remembrance
Hiroshima/Nagasaki Remembrance, Aug. 6
Two persons shared their thoughts at the opening of the Hiroshima/Nagasaki Remembrance at the Loose Park Lagoon Aug. 6 in KC, MO.
Henry Stoever, chair of the PeaceWorks board, welcomed about 55 people to the annual remembrance. “It is more than remembering,” said Stoever. “It is also being aware of the present situation and knowing that we can and must act to prevent more such nuclear wars.”
He continued, “Two months ago, Donald Trump met with a foreign policy expert on international affairs, and three times, Trump asked about ‘the use of nuclear weapons’ and at one point asked, ‘If we have them, why can’t we use them?’”
Stoever asked us, “Does anybody think it’s sane to think of using nuclear weapons?” We replied with a resounding “No!”
Dave Pack, treasurer of the PeaceWorks board, reviewed results of the 1945 nuclear bombs as well as the “terror bombing” preceding them. About 100,000 were killed in a Tokyo bombing, mainly civilians, and about 30,000 civilians were killed in Hamburg, Germany. “How inhumane and barbaric could we be?” Pack asked. He encouraged us to follow the lead of the Friends Committee on National Legislation, which suggests working to influence U.S. nuclear policies in three areas:
- Halting the 30-year $1 trillion planned “modernization” of our nuclear arsenal, particularly seeking to influence the 2017 comprehensive review of U.S. nuclear policy.
- Blocking a planned first step in the so-called “modernization,” the development of a new nuclear cruise missile intended to be a tactical weapon that hits precise targets and causes “localized” destruction.
- Supporting funding for U.S. nonproliferation programs to combat the greatest current nuclear danger-- unsecured nuclear material falling into the hands of violent extremists.
Noting that he had recently read the 2014 book Hiroshima Nagasaki: The Real Story of the Atomic Bombings and Their Aftermath, by Paul Ham, Pack quoted Ham’s last paragraph (p. 510):
At a time of war, people will applaud any story their government feeds them. Americans continue to swear blind that the bombs alone ended the war; that they were America’s ‘least abhorrent’ choice. These are plainly false propositions, salves to uneasy consciences over what was actually done on 6 and 9 August 1945 when, under a summer sky, without warning, hundreds of thousands of civilian men, women and children felt the sun fall on their heads.
Poems from Aug. 6 remembrance, for a safer world
On the evening of Aug. 6, the Hiroshima attack anniversary, pacifists gathered. Among our sharings were poems by two PeaceWorks board members. Parts of their poems follow.
if they were here
When we remember the lives of those at
Nagasaki and Hiroshima in 1945,
We know we must act in their stead
Do the things they would do, if they had lived,
if they were here.
Through photos taken long ago, we remember.
Through poetry, prayer, and the folding of the crane,
through the lighting of the candle and the sound of the chime,
through our ceremonies, symbols and songs
our vigils and our votes
our petitions and protest,
through careful listening to Hibakusha survivors,
we continue the story so all can see, and all can hear, and never forget.
Until the last nuclear weapon on earth is abolished,
this old scar will fester on our hearts. We remember as if they were here.
—By Lu Mountenay
Imagine a Way Forward
How can we go on?
When bombs are dropped
and pieces of flesh
pulverize into charcoal ash
leaving questions of why
and apologies disappear …
for those who can’t apologize
for those who are too selfish
to care for others
for those who avoid responsibility.
But we can at least do this:
Carry on in the face of obstacles
and make the arc of our lives bend
toward a vision of peace and love.
-By Ron Faust
Gayle June speaks of his mother, his hope
Gayle June, whose mother, Michiko Okada June, was born in Nagasaki and was 18 at the time of the bombing Aug. 9, 1945, said, “Even though my mother and her companions were working in an underground factory, they were aware of the bombing. Someone at a door saw the guards bloody, with one having a cut on his neck—he eventually died. After eight hours, Gayle’s mother and some friends asked to leave. When they stepped out of a tunnel, they saw the city obliterated. The only thing they could find was railroad tracks. And when my mother got home, she found her father, a doctor, praying in the little shrine for the daughter he thought they’d lost.”
June said that each year, the Harry Truman Appreciation Society places a wreath on Truman’s grave at the Truman Library in Independence. This year, he was invited to attend. “I gratefully accepted,” he said. “I brought a Japanese origami crane. I asked if I could place it in the wreath, and they said yes. This is the first time a symbol of peace has been placed in the wreath. Little things like this give me hope.”
He explained another peace effort and asked us to participate: “I invite all of you to join me at dawn at Liberty Memorial on Veteran’s Day, Nov. 11, and shout out, ‘No war!’ We can send this out into the universe!”
From apologies to remedies
In addition to paper cranes, candles, talks, and songs, this year’s Hiroshima/Nagasaki Remembrance featured index cards. We used them to write, on one side, our apologies or concerns. On the other side, our commitments, our remedies. Here are a few of our index-card comments.
“I apologize for drones, for support of Israel, coups, private prisons/schools, death of Mother Earth.”
“Apologize for: No Jobs available for youth; Woman-hating; Too much production—not enough conservation.”
“I apologize for putting all life at risk by continuing to possess and produce nuclear weapons.”
“Racism—years of racism; economical difference and white supremacy; politics—government of the rich, by the rich, for the rich; war internal and international; poor education and health care.”
“Are we going out with a blast or a whimper? Will we destroy mankind with nuclear weapons or climate change? I feel for my grandkid!! Wake up!!”
“I’m gonna be who I am and act when I feel called to act. To be present. To care. To love.”
“I hope to help educate inner-city youth. Also, I hope to oppose cheap imports which eliminate unskilled jobs, affecting low-income persons most. Regarding weapons manufacture, it is important to speak out against it.”
“I will become more active in my city through SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice) and making my voice heard.”
“Speak out, every chance I get, against sexism, racism, nationalism.”
(perhaps to the Japanese people, perhaps to others) “I will love you even though I don’t know you. I will love you and never meet you! But I will love you.”
Mary Hladky comments on Obama’s antiwar words at Hiroshima
During the Aug. 6 Hiroshima/Nagasaki Remembrance in KC, PeaceWorks board member Mary Hladky shared some of President Obama’s statements at Hiroshima on May 27.
“President Obama delivered one of the most beautiful and powerful antiwar speeches I have ever heard in Japan, at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial,” said Hladky. She repeated his words: “We have a shared responsibility to look directly into the eye of history and ask what we must do differently to curb such suffering again.”
“We must have the courage to escape the logic of fear and pursue a world without nuclear weapons.”
“We must change our mindset about war itself. To prevent conflict through diplomacy and strive to end conflicts after they’ve begun. To see our growing interdependence as a cause for peaceful cooperation and not violent competition. To define our nations not by our capacity to destroy but by what we build. And perhaps, above all, we must reimagine our connection to one another as members of one human race.”
“The irreducible worth of every person, the insistence that every life is precious, the radical and necessary notion that we are part of a single human family—that is the story that we all must tell.”
“That is a future we can choose, a future in which Hiroshima and Nagasaki are known not as the dawn of atomic warfare but as the start of our own moral awakening.”
Then Hladky said, “Unfortunately, Obama has not lived up to the high ideals of his rhetoric. It is up to us, the people, members of the antiwar and antinuclear coalition, to put these inspiring words into action.”
Ann Suellentrop gives keynote Aug. 6
Ann Suellentrop, MSRN, of the PeaceWorks Board, gave the keynote address at PeaceWorks’ Hiroshima/Nagasaki Remembrance on Aug. 6. A few highlights:
I am a pediatric nurse and work in mother-baby nursing. I help moms learn how to breastfeed. Why do I care about nuclear weapons? The answer is because I’ve worked my whole life supporting and caring for the creation of new life. I love kids! And nuclear weapons are the exact opposite; they are the total destruction of life.
It makes no sense whatsoever to spend trillions of dollars on suicidal weapons of mass murder. We should use that money instead to eradicate diseases off the face of the earth, like TB, AIDS, Ebola, malaria.
The more I study nuclear weapons, I see it as just poison, a very deadly poison. I went to a workshop put on by Joanna Macy, an eco-philosopher and Buddhist scholar in Boulder, CO. Joanna calls plutonium “poison fire” and calls for us all to change our consciousness and become “nuclear guardians.” She says time was split in two with the first atomic explosion and we are now in the nuclear age, which will last for generations upon generations. Her workshop taught me we owe it to future generations to contain and safely store nuclear waste and warn people to stay away from it.
We as a species have already doubled the amount of radioactivity in the environment from thousands of nuclear tests on every continent except Antarctica and South America. We humans have spread this toxic mess all over our air, land, and water. So I wonder: Why do we think the cancer rate is rising?
The Navajo and Sioux nations have suffered high cancer rates from the abandoned uranium mines left unsealed. The places where uranium was processed into bomb-grade material still suffer high rates of cancer, like the St. Louis area that is just waking up to the danger they are in. The factories that make parts for nukes, like our own KC Plant, have had hundreds of workers suffer and die terribly from the thousands of noxious chemicals and radioactive substances involved. And the downwinders from the thousands of bombs tested all over the world, starting with the very first one in New Mexico, number in the millions.
And, of course, the hideous dropping of the two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 must not be repeated anywhere on earth.
About eight years ago, I joined the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability (ANA) and Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR). I’ve learned many things about nuclear weapons from these groups.
ANA is made up of over two dozen groups around the U.S. who live near nuclear bomb factories and nuclear waste sites. They watchdog these enterprises and lobby in Washington, DC, every spring. In the fall, they meet near one of the nuclear weapon sites and tour its facilities. This year the meeting is Oct. 19-22 in a Zen Center near a hot springs in New Mexico. We will tour Los Alamos, the very birthplace of the nuclear bomb. I invite anyone interested in going to contact me.
In PSR, I have met anti-nuclear citizens, including nurses and doctors, who have advocated very effectively, for example, on stopping nuclear bomb testing. I have a handout from PSR on the current worldwide efforts to make a U.N. treaty this fall to finally ban the bomb. The huge majority of the world that does not own nuclear weapons are waking up to the threat they are under. PSR published a report stating that 2 billion people worldwide are at risk if even a tiny nuclear war broke out, say between Pakistan and India. That’s because the debris from the burning cities would be lofted into the air and circle the earth, blocking the sun and causing massive crop failures. The rest of the world has grown tired of being bullied by the eight countries that have nukes, so 127 countries have already signed on. Once they are empowered, there is no going back.
PSR has a campaign called “Don’t Bank on the Bomb” that encourages us to ask our banks to divest and take their money out of making nuclear weapons. This is a little something each one of us can do.
Agape—love of all
In the last few years, I have come into contact with Father Charles McCarthy. Before I met him, I never put nonviolence specifically together with Christianity. But it all makes sense now to me when he talks about Agape. This is the kind of love that saves us, the kind of love that seeks to serve others with no thought of getting something back in return. And the kind of love that is so nonviolent that it will suffer, even to death, without retaliation.
Love of all—friends and enemies—contains the means to stop all evil. It doesn’t mean passivity, but creative resistance to evil nonviolently. Violence only brings more violence. Real love is the only answer, not an easy answer, but the only one that works. Every act of love, no matter how small, counts. This is what I believe.
Say “I apologize” at Hiroshima/Nagasaki Remembrance Aug. 6, 2016 and learn steps toward creating a nuke-free world
The annual Hiroshima/Nagasaki Remembrance will, this year, feature a time to apologize for the US nuclear attacks in 1945 and will suggest taking immediate steps toward a nuclear weapon-free world, a nonviolent world.
PeaceWorks will convene this year’s remembrance on Saturday, Aug. 6, at the west side of the Loose Park Lagoon, near the intersections of 52nd Street and Wornall Road in KCMO. We’ll gather for potluck at 6:30 pm and the ceremony at 7:30 pm.
One of the many words for “I’m sorry” or “I apologize” in Japanese is “Shazai,” and our ceremony will incorporate that. We’ll also share information on online petitions, for example, to end the US first-strike policy and extend US response time to a suspected attack instead of keeping our military on first-alert status. Henry Stoever, chair of the PeaceWorks Board, says, “You will have an opportunity to say ‘I’m sorry!’ in writing on various issues, ranging from environmental dangers, to war and weapons and gun violence, to whatever is dear to your heart.”
Ann Suellentrop, a PeaceWorks Board member and one of the planners of the Aug. 6 ceremony, says, “We should turn to each other, not turn on each other.” Ann says that phrase is of old, from early civil-rights-movement days.
Ron Faust, also a PeaceWorks Board member planning the ceremony, says in his poem “If Only an Apology”—
Unless one feels nothing
We are mourning
The massacre of lives
In Hiroshima where
A bomb unleashed the atomic age
And left us with radiation
And apocalyptic destruction
PeaceWorks encourages you to join us in this annual observance, a time of yearning for a violence-free world.
Reflections from the 2014 remembrance ceremony:h3>
- 69 years since Nagasaki: painful memories, hopeful notes
- All Souls hosts Hiroshima commemoration and call to action
- Moral Outrage
Photo slideshow of the Hiroshima/Nagasaki Remembrance 2014
Photos by Jim Hannah
69 years since Nagasaki: painful memories, hopeful notes
by Jim Hannah
Posted August 30, 2014
“A zombie apocalypse” is how Gayle June tried to describe the aftermath of the bombing of Nagasaki, Japan, 69 years ago. Speaking Aug. 9 at PeaceWorks-KC’s annual Hiroshima/Nagasaki Remembrance at Kansas City’s Loose Park, June recounted the horrific scene witnessed by his mother as she surfaced from an underground factory at ground zero on Aug. 9, 1945.
“It was a nightmare, the closest thing to a zombie apocalypse,” he said, recalling his mother’s experience. “People were burnt, bleeding, their clothes ripped and burnt away, moaning for water, for relief. My mother and her friend stopped at the river’s edge to bring a bucket of water for a family before moving on. All that were left were the streetcar tracks which they followed to get home.”
June’s mother died two years ago, one of a dwindling group the Japanese call hi-baku-sha, or “explosion-affected people.” Her son urged those in attendance to remember the experience of his mother and the others who were present that awful day, so another such day may never come to pass.
“We confuse force with power,” he said, ”but the truth is people who lack power need force. Truly powerful people need no force, because real power IS Love.”
During his presentation to the 65 persons at the annual observance, June displayed a wreath of origami cranes collected in memory of his mother, marking the first anniversary of her death. “I wanted these cranes to come from every corner of the world, representing every continent, every country, every region, every culture, and every race. Anyone who desired that our children inherit a world free of the possibility of nuclear war, I wanted to be part of this endeavor.”
As Henry and Jane Stoever held the cranes aloft, June said, “I received over 1,600 cranes from six continents in 10 weeks! They came from all over the world, even Los Alamos, the birthplace of the weapon that was dropped on my mother’s home 69 years ago. What I learned from this project is that WE ARE NOT ALONE! There are people all over the world wanting this very thing. There is an Awakening that says we are more powerful than our past … and small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.”
Commenting on the 69 soundings of a gong heard earlier in the observance, June concluded, “You all, with our family, share the hope that Aug. 9, 1945, was the LAST time humankind ever used this insane weapon on itself. Each chime of that gong is for me a cause of celebration, that we’ve gone another year without the use of this terrible weapon.”
—Jim Hannah is secretary of the PeaceWorks board.
All Souls hosts Hiroshima commemoration and call to action
Posted August 30, 2014
Denial. Despair. Or Defiance.
Those are the three options in response to the threat of nuclear weapons, said PeaceWorks-KC board member Jim Hannah. He explored these options during a Hiroshima/Nagasaki commemoration and call to action held at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church in Kansas City, MO, on Sunday, Aug. 10.
Giving in to the first two options, Hannah, said, is the way of death, while the third—defiance—is life-affirming. Recalling the fable of “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” he urged, “Someone has to say, ‘The emperor has no clothes!’” He drew a parallel to nuclear weapons, saying, “I truly believe that one day, not too distant, nuclear weapons will be seen for the incredibly wasteful, ineffective, irrational, and immoral weapons of mass destruction they truly are.”
The All Souls service included an excerpt from a National Geographic documentary, “24 Hours After Hiroshima,” detailing the “shroud of secrecy” that has concealed the human cost of nuclear weapons since their first use. Photos and films of The Bomb’s aftermath were confiscated by the U.S. government to prevent the possibility of public opinion turning against its further development and use. “So the shroud of secrecy, suppression, and distortion veiled the first use of nuclear weapons,” Hannah said, “and veils it yet today, 69 years later, in the name of ‘national security.’”
A children’s story, Paper Crane Journey, was read by PeaceWorks board member, Jane Stoever, telling the story of Sadako Sasaki, a girl who contracted leukemia in the aftermath of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan. Her wish for life, symbolized by the folding of 1,000 origami cranes, was honored by giving each of the children present an origami crane.
PeaceWorks board member, Lu Mountenay, read her own poem, “if they were here,” imaginatively listening for the voices of those killed by atomic bombs and then responding, “Never, ever again!” All Souls member Jan Wheeler read “The Living Seed,” a poem by Keneth Boulding about the living seed of love and that ultimately endures.
The service closed with a call to action by PeaceWorks chair Henry Stoever, who challenged the congregation to sign up in the foyer for a variety of peace witnesses toward a nuclear weapons-free world.
by Ron Faust 8/9/14, concerning the new nuclear weapon facility
Posted September 22, 2014
Releasing Little Boy and Fat Man
To kill hundreds, thousands of civilians
Set up a mindset of disproportionality
Such that the massacre is so horrible
That no one individual is accountable
For ushering in a stand-off nuclear age
In which the culture of violence is blasé.
And so we hide our moral discomfort
By saying that it is all about jobs
Rather than looking at the end products
And wondering if our dignity has
Anything to do with our destiny
So that we have invariably linked
The arms race with the human race
We will have neither if we continue
To chain ourselves to the law of the jungle
And imprison ourselves to guttural reactions,
Neither reaching for the moral high ground
Nor taking responsibility for our behavior
We are called to rise out of small-mindedness
And find a different path than nuclear madness.
On the August 9, 2014, occasion of remembering survivors who suffered horrific bombings on August 6 and 9, 1945
Hiroshima/Nagasaki Remembrance 2013
On Aug. 4, 2013—a night of floating lanterns, flute, gong, and peace cranes—55 people gathered at Loose Park in KCMO for PeaceWorks’ annual Hiroshima/Nagasaki Remembrance. Through our presence, we vowed, “Never again!”
Reflections from the remembrance ceremony:
- Son honors mother, Nagasaki survivor, with paper cranes for her tomb
- On floating lanterns—and nuclear bombs
- Hiroshima/Nagasaki Historical Perspective
- Nuclear power plants, nuclear weapons
- Nuclear Guardianship Ethic
Photo slideshow of the Hiroshima/Nagasaki Remembrance 2013
Photos by Tom Fox
Son honors mother, Nagasaki survivor, with paper cranes for her tomb
by Jane Stoever
Posted September 3, 2013
Gayle June, a son of Nagasaki survivor Michiko June, spoke at the Aug. 4 Hiroshima/Nagasaki Remembrance about his project to honor Michiko. She died two years ago at age 83 in Springfield, Mo. Michiko had told her own story as a Nagasaki survivor to docents at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library in Independence and to her grandson’s middle-school class.
Gayle said he created his project out of his participation in a Landmark Worldwide seminar. Landmark is a global training/development program teaching transformative thinking, the language of being, distinct from critical thinking, which dwells in the language of knowing. On June 10, Gayle began his project by using his e-mail and Facebook account to ask people to send him a paper crane with a wish for the possibility of a world without nuclear weapons. He planned to place the cranes on his mother’s grave at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., on Aug. 9, the anniversary of the Nagasaki bombing. Hoping for 1,000 cranes, the traditional number for a blessing, Gayle received more than 1,600 by Aug. 9.
“I wanted my family involved. I wanted my friends involved,” said Gayle. “But I also wanted strangers involved. I thought it would be awesome if these paper birds came from every corner of the world, represented every continent, every country, every religion, every culture, and every race.”
Through PeaceWorks contacts, Nuclear Watch South in Atlanta soon sent five cranes. “Then they started pouring in,” said Gayle. “It was like Christmas morning every day at the mailbox.” Cranes came from Japan, other Asian countries, Europe, Australia, North America, South America, and finally Africa. The Community of Christ, with its Peace Temple in Independence, on Aug. 4 gave a large box of white paper cranes to Gayle.
“My wife’s dear friend Penny Hill from New Mexico went to Los Alamos, the birthplace of the weapon that was dropped on my mother’s home city, and folded cranes there,” said Gayle to the 55 persons at the annual remembrance. “That a symbol of peace and love in the form a fragile paper crane could come full circle to honor the memory of a survivor almost 70 years later gives me hope.”
Noting that he had visited the memorial peace parks in Nagasaki and Hiroshima, Gayle said the memorial cenotaph in Hiroshima, with The Book of the Past recording names of Hiroshima victims, bears this inscription:
“Let all the souls here rest in peace, for we shall not repeat the evil.”
In Michiko’s casket is a small origami crane with that same pledge—never again—said Gayle. “You all, with our family, share the hope that we may declare Aug. 9, 1945, was the LAST time humankind ever used this insane weapon on itself. Thank you all for standing for that possibility with your kind listening, and the acknowledgment of one loving soul who survived that darkness, and the thousands who did not. You all are my inspiration.”
On floating lanterns—and nuclear bombs
by Thomas C. Fox | Kansas City, Mo., posted Aug. 5 (reprinted with permission).
Posted October 6, 2013
Tōrō nagashi is the Japanese ceremony in which participants float paper lanterns. This is done based on the belief that this guides the spirits of the departed back to the other world. The ceremony is also done by many peace communities to commemorate those lost in the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on Aug. 6 and 9, 1945.
Those U.S. bombings were the only times nuclear weapons were ever used on human targets. Within the first two to four months of the bombings, the acute effects killed 90,000–166,000 people in Hiroshima and 60,000–80,000 in Nagasaki, with roughly half of the deaths in each city occurring on the first day.
In Kansas City, Mo., peace activists gather one evening during the first week of August to float lanterns in a pond in Loose Park to commemorate those deaths.
Last night several dozen once again gathered to remember those who died under the unfathomable fire of nuclear weapons. The gathering, as it always does, reaches globally to let the human family know that in the middle of the heartland of the United States, some people remember and call out against the building, storage and use of these weapons of mass destruction.
The Kansas City peace community, ecumenical in scope, has attempted for years to keep a focus on the construction of nuclear weapons, as 85 percent of the components of these weapons are built here in a plant that has polluted the local ground water and environment to such a degree that the plant is being moved to another location several miles to the south.
Many peace activists have spoken out against the building of the new plant. Repeatedly they come from various parts of the country to the new plant where they “cross the line” and allow themselves to be arrested as a visible sign of protest. It is all done non-violently.
President Obama has called for the elimination of all nuclear weapons. It is an elusive goal, especially so when billions are being poured into the construction of a new plant that will continue to build these weapons decades into the future.
One of the principal voices speaking out against the plant is a Catholic healthcare worker whose passion for years has been to draw attention to the immediate health dangers the current nuclear parts plant causes to its workers and to the larger community. Ann Suellentrop spoke once again at the lantern-floating ceremony Aug. 4. Her words are worth pondering—see the following two stories. A small voice today, decades from now she will be revered for drawing attention to foolishness, hypocrisy and immorality. Some excerpts:
Manufacturing nuclear weapons damages our health and environment now. It has polluted every major river in the U.S., which is the source of our drinking water. The KC Plant is being assessed for specific hazards by EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. There are already 14 known superfund sites at the Bannister Federal Complex with almost 900 toxins! The KC Plant is located on a flood plain next to a river and a wide creek in a residential neighborhood. How can we trust the government to clean this up
Nuclear weapons do not make us safe. They are still on high alert, a forgotten danger. They could destroy all major cities in the world in a half hour. Nuclear war is an outdated strategy.
Nuclear weapons are toxic to manufacture. These are hazardous jobs; workers may not make it to retirement and/or they may suffer from serious, chronic health issues. The Department of Labor administers the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act (EEOICPA). Begun in 2001, the program tends to deny, deny, and deny claims until the worker dies.
Nuclear weapons are an extravagant waste of our tax money and resources. They are not good for our economy; they are an unusable, unsustainable product. We could use those resources for (since I’m a nurse) medical research and health care.
Nuclear weapons are immoral. Many world religions have condemned nuclear weapons.
There is a growing international, as well as national, movement to ban nuclear weapons. The majority of people worldwide want to get rid of them.
A new process has been established by the United Nations’ Open Ended Working Group to Take Forward Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament Negotiations (OEWG); it met in May for the first time. It sponsored the "Open the Door to a Nuclear Free Future" campaign that inspired us to use the symbol of the door in our July 13 action at the KC Plant.
Also, the International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons hosted diplomats from 127 countries who met in Oslo, Norway, March 4-5 to examine the catastrophic effects of nuclear weapons. ICAN held a Civil Society Forum to build support for the ban alongside the diplomats' meeting. I would like to attend the next ICAN meeting, in Mexico.
Everyone can do something. Join a group, become informed, write a letter to the editor, call your congressperson, participate in demonstrations. Yes, everyone can do something!
Thomas C. Fox is publisher of National Catholic Reporter.
Hiroshima/Nagasaki Historical Perspective
by Dave Pack
Posted October 6, 2013
In August 1945, Hiroshima, Japan, was a city of 350,000 that was a major embarkation port, industrial center, and the site of several major Japanese military headquarters. At 8:15 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 6, 1945, the United States dropped a gun-type fission U-235 atomic weapon called Little Boy over Hiroshima. It detonated 2,000 feet from the ground, producing 7000 degree F temperatures, 625 mph winds, and total destruction within a 1-mile radius.
Over an extended period of time, the bombing resulted in 90,000 to 166,000 deaths, half of them coming on the first day. The dead included 20,000 Japanese soldiers, 12 American POWs in a prison ¼ mile from ground zero, and 20,000 Koreans (among 670,000 Korean conscripts in Japan at the time).
There was a plan to drop a 2nd atomic weapon, an implosion-type U-239 atomic weapon called Fat Man, on Aug. 11 (the type of weapon tested in New Mexico July 16, 1945). However, weather predictions motivated advancing the date to Aug. 9. The city of Kokura, the site of a large munitions plant, was the primary target, but a 70 percent cloud cover there led to a change to a secondary target, Nagasaki, a city of 263,000 that was a large seaport with wide-ranging industrial activity, but little Japanese military presence.
At 11:02 a.m. on Thursday, August 9, Fat Man was detonated 1,500 feet from the ground in Nagasaki, producing total destruction within a 1-mile radius. Over an extended period of time, the bombing resulted in 60,000 to 80,000 deaths, half of them coming on the first day. The dead included 150 Japanese soldiers, 8 POWs, and 2,000 Korean conscripts.
We come here this evening in remembrance of those who perished in Hiroshima and Nagasaki as a result of these two bombs, primarily Japanese civilians. Let us also join in celebrating these historical realities:
- In 1971 the Japanese government adopted a parliamentary resolution stating, “Japan shall neither possess nor manufacture nuclear weapons, nor shall it permit their introduction into Japanese territory.”
- Sixty-eight years later, the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings remain the only two uses of nuclear weapons in war to date.
- Since at least the late 1950s, there has been a very strong public voice standing in opposition to the inherent immorality of nuclear weapons.
In this remembrance we rededicate ourselves to being a part of the continuing very strong public voice standing in opposition to the inherent immorality of nuclear weapons.
Dave Pack, secretary of the PeaceWorks-KC Board and co-chair of the national Peace Action, shared this historical perspective Aug. 4, 2013, at PeaceWorks’ annual Hiroshima-Nagasaki Remembrance.
Nuclear power plants, nuclear weapons
by Anne Suellentrop
Posted October 6, 2013
I'd also like to draw the connection between nuclear weapons and nuclear power. They are inextricably linked, because plutonium, used in nuclear bombs, is produced from uranium; the nuclear power plants have plutonium as a byproduct. So countries that want nuclear weapons have a clear path to make nuclear weapons. There are 40 countries in the Middle East right now that are thinking about making nuclear weapons.
Kansas City is surrounded by nuclear power plants: Wolf Creek is 100 miles southwest of Kansas City; the Callaway Plant is in Missouri; and there are two nuclear power plants upstream from Kansas City near Omaha which were threatened by flood waters last year.
I’ve recently learned that Wolf Creek has the worst safety record out of all the 100 or so nuclear power plants in the U.S. It’s had four major safety incidents in the last three years, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has sent an investigative team to find out what is causing the problems.
Also, the man-made lake that Wolf Creek uses to cool its nuclear plant has been polluted with radioactive tritium to 25,000 pico-curies per liter, up to the limit allowed, according to David Lochbaum, a top U.S. authority on nuclear power. He himself worked in the nuclear energy industry for 17 years. He says that it’s not a question of “if” power plants will be shut down, but “when.” He advises local authorities to plan for that future and to transform the jobs to other work. This is what PeaceWorks did when we convinced the City Council to say they would plan for future jobs when the KC nuclear weapons plant shuts down. However, there is no timetable for when they will do this planning.
Ann Suellentrop, a leader of PeaceWorks-KC and the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability, shared these words in KCMO Aug. 4, words reprinted by permission from the National Catholic Reporter blog.
Nuclear Guardianship Ethic
by Anne Suellentrop
Posted October 6, 2013
Joanna Macy has developed the “Nuclear Guardianship Ethic.” It is basically a bill of nuclear human rights for future generations. I went to a workshop she gave a couple years ago. She talked about plutonium as “poison fire” and said it endangers the future because radioactive materials will be deadly for thousands of generations and millions of years. Future generations have a right to live healthy lives and to have a world left to them in a livable condition.
I invite you to ponder ideas in the Nuclear Guardianship Ethic and make them your own. Joanna says everyone on earth must become nuclear guardians.
- Each generation shall endeavor to preserve the foundations of life and well-being for those who come after. To produce and abandon substances that damage following generations is morally unacceptable.
- Given the extreme toxicity and longevity of radioactive materials, their production must cease.
- We accept responsibility for the radioactive materials mined and produced for our alleged benefit.
- Future generations have the right to know about their nuclear legacy and the dangers it brings.
- Future generations have the right to protect themselves from these dangers. Therefore, it is our responsibility to pass on the information they will need, such as the nature and effects of radiation, and methods for monitoring and containing it. Deep burial of radioactive materials precludes these possibilities and risks widespread contamination.
- Transport of radioactive materials, with its inevitable risks of accidents and spills, should be undertaken only when storage conditions at the site of production pose a greater hazard than transportation.
- Research and development of technologies for the least hazardous long-term treatment and placement of nuclear materials should receive high priority in public attention and funding.
- Education of the public about the character, source, and containment of radioactive materials is essential for the health of present and future generations.
- The formation of policies for managing radioactive materials requires full participation of the public … (which) must have ready access to complete, comprehensible information.
- The vigilance necessary for ongoing containment of radioactive materials requires a moral commitment. This commitment is within our capacity, and can be developed and sustained by drawing on the cultural and spiritual resources of our human heritage.
Ann Suellentrop shared these thoughts Aug. 4, 2013, at the Hiroshima/Nagasaki Remembrance. Her words are reprinted by permission from the National Catholic Reporter blog.
Hiroshima/Nagasaki Remembrance 2012
Reflections from the 2012 Kansas City remembrance ceremony are below the photo slideshow:
- Dick Howard: PeaceWorks & friends recall nuclear terror of 1945
- Jim Hannah: Our steady drip, drip, drip will wear away the mountain of war
- Gayle June: Michiko Okada June, hibakusha
- Henry Stoever: Opening Remarks
Photos by Jim Hannah and Patti Nelson
PeaceWorks & friends recall nuclear terror of 1945
by Dick Howard
Sixty-seven years ago, two Japanese cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, suddenly became symbols of the unspeakable horrors of atomic warfare. The deaths, sufferings, and permanent agonies of eventually more than 350,000 human victims of the two USA atomic bombs soon became the rationale for the containment doctrine--that nobody would dare drop another nuclear weapon anywhere, for to do so would assure the end of all civilizations. But the USA and the USSR, during the next four decades, mounted a multi-trillion-$$ nuclear weapons race hovering as a cloud of terror over all of creation. With that heritage of fear and hope, about 80 PeaceWorks members and others met at Loose Park Lagoon in Kansas City, Mo., Aug. 5 for the annual Hiroshima/Nagasaki Remembrance.
Henry Stoever called for silent meditation as 67 gongs were sounded, each marking one more year of nuclear weapons madness. Each gong still rings inside me, a memorial note of sadness at the fallout from generations of international fear and paranoia.
Gayle June of Parkville, Mo., paid formal tribute to his mother, Michiko Okada June, who survived the Nagasaki atomic blast. He read his son Nathan’s junior high school class paper, an interview with his grandmother. Her account of survival and helping the wounded evoked empathy and awe in those who listened. Gayle June said the names of victims are recorded in the memorial cenotaph in Hiroshima, which is inscribed, "Let all the souls here rest in peace, for we shall not repeat the evil." He also said that at his mother’s funeral, the pastor put in the casket a small origami crane with the words, "Michiko-san, I pledge to you that I will work for peace until I, too, draw my last breath."
Ron Faust appealed to us to accompany him in his court appearance in Jefferson City Sept. 10. He’s charged with trespassing at Whiteman Air Force Base, but rather insists he has invested his energies and resources to oppose the dreaded "fighting from far away" in the use of drones as anonymous attack machines.
Beth Vannatta of Halstead, Kan., sculptor for world peace, displayed 13 of her compelling sculptures. To behold each one was for me to appreciate Beth’s huge investments of skill and courage. Her dream quickens my own: that coming generations will have a chance to replace fear of nuclear annihilation with good will and global interdependence. I shall long remember her sculptures, not only as indicting the horrors of nuclear weaponry, but also as signs of transformative hope in this war-torn world.
--Dick Howard of Independence, Mo., historian emeritus for the Community of Christ, has been active in peace circles for decades, including the former KC Interfaith Peace Alliance.
Our steady drip, drip, drip will wear away the mountain of war
by Jim Hannah
Spanish novelist Carlos Zafon once remarked that "we seem to live in a world where forgetting and oblivion are an industry in themselves."
That industry of forgetting and oblivion went into overtime in August 1945, shielding the American public from seeing the full horror we unleashed on the world. The photos of human carnage we’re seeing here today were repressed for 22 years, lest the American public have misgivings if they saw the horrific human effects of the Bomb. Photos of bombed-out buildings, OK. But films or photos of the charred corpses and maimed survivors, of women and children, these were confiscated.
Is it any wonder that nearly seven decades later, our nation is still in the dark--or still in denial--as we continue to rationalize what the Japanese call "the era of nuclear madness"? The MAD-ness today is assuming that nuclear deterrence will keep us safe, when in truth it can only foster proliferation, and eventual tragedy. If we truly want to wage "a war on terror," we should begin at the Pentagon, because, sadly, we have become the world’s premiere terrorist nation--threatening global extinction by land, by air, and by sea, blindly clinging to nuclear apartheid in a hypocritical stance of denying to others what we ourselves will not relinquish.
So we are here today in defiance of "the industry of forgetting and oblivion."
We are here today in remembrance that ours is the first and only nation to unleash atomic bombs on civilian populations.
We are here today to add our voices to the hibakusha survivors and their grandchildren, who vow "Never again!"
And just what do we remember? On August 6, 1945, the United States military detonated a nuclear bomb over Hiroshima, Japan. Three days later, August 9, a second nuclear bomb was dropped over Nagasaki, Japan. Within four months, between 190,000 and 260,000 persons died from these attacks--nearly all civilians--either killed outright, or from injury, radiation sickness, or related illnesses. Tens of thousands more were injured in the blasts, and the suffering from radiation poisoning continues to this day.
This is a horror we cannot fully grasp. It would be like imagining the 3,000 incinerated in the attacks of 9/11, only magnified 50 to 80 times. Yet why was the death of the 3,000 on 9/11 an event said to have "changed America forever," while the death of the hundreds of thousands in August 1945 has been largely written off as collateral damage needed to end World War II?
Among the things we tend to forget about Hiroshima and Nagasaki is that the victims included not just the "other," but ourselves as well--our sense of humanity died first, followed by a Cold War arms race that has poisoned our planet irreversibly. Do we remember that our government tested more than a thousand nuclear bombs in the atmosphere and underground? We’ve poisoned ourselves in ways that will not be fully known for generations to come.
Not everyone has forgotten; not everyone is silent. This recent book by Kristen Iverson tells her story of growing up in the shadow of Rocky Flats, Colorado, where for nearly 40 years as many as 3,500 workers manufactured the plutonium triggers for our nuclear arsenal. This secret plant was once designated as "the most contaminated site in America" (quoted from the dustcover), and was finally closed after a l989 raid by the FBI for criminal violations of environmental law--polluting water, air, and soil. Her memoir is titled Full Body Burden--a term coined by the Department of Energy to measure the amount of radiation a body supposedly can accumulate without ill effects. But the health challenges faced by the author and her family and friends who lived downwind and downstream from Rocky Flats give lie to the official assurances and denials, just like the 60-year record of the Kansas City Plant at Bannister Federal Complex.
One of the most chilling paragraphs in Iverson’s memoir is this:
"From 1952 to 1989, Rocky Flats manufactures more than seventy thousand plutonium triggers, at a cost of nearly $4 million apiece. Each one contains enough breathable particles of plutonium to kill every person on earth (p. 4)."
That’s tough to get your head around. First, it reminds us that plutonium exists only in trace amounts in nature, so we must "manufacture" amounts large enough for nuclear bombs. The manufacturing cost is unfathomable: $4 million times 70,000 is $280 billion! And each one of the softball-size triggers of plutonium, if somehow airborne globally, has enough breathable particles to give everyone on earth a lethal dose. ... Incredibly, we manufactured 70,000 of them!
Iverson’s next paragraph is equally distressing:
"Rocky Flat’s largest output, however, is radioactive and toxic waste..." She explains that for decades the radioactive waste of Rocky Flats has been shipped to a "temporary" site in Idaho Falls, which, she writes, "currently holds 3.5 million cubic feet of plutonium-contaminated waste that is not expected to stabilize for... 240,000 years. 85 percent of the radioactive waste comes from Rocky Flats, which began shipping waste to Idaho in 1969... (p. 195)."
A personal note: Our youngest son lives about half an hour from Rocky Flats, and used to live within 15 minutes. So last month while visiting him we drove out there to see for ourselves. Guess what? There’s really very little to see, other than a great view of the Denver skyline, just 16 miles downwind and downstream. WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?! Three million people within minutes of a plant manufacturing the world’s deadliest substance! In recent years the 800 buildings have been torn down, hauled off, buried, or paved over. Some 1,300 acres of the central production area are fenced off-- a permanent "sacrifice zone" so contaminated with plutonium and other radioactive contaminants that it will remain toxic for tens of thousands of years. The surrounding 4,800 acres, however, has been renamed Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge since cleanup was declared complete in 2005. It’s now overseen by the Fish and Wildlife Service, which plans to open it for public recreational use--biking, hiking, maybe even hunting. A citizens’ group, Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center, is resisting this effort, joining thousands of others who through the years have exposed the local and global threat of Rocky Flats. More than 800 protestors have been arrested there; once 15,000 peace witnesses joined hands to encircle the 17-mile perimeter of the plant. Such peace witnesses were pivotal in closing it down. But the industry of forgetting and oblivion are still in full swing there. Why? Because even now the truth would repress land values; the truth would hurt the local economy; the truth would cost jobs. Besides, there’s no danger anymore; it’s a green campus good for the kiddies. Does any of this sound familiar? I think we heard all those same specious arguments at the hearings for te new Kansas City nuclear weapons parts plant, remember?
As we were leaving Rocky Flats we picked up a few rocks from the site-souvenirs to remind ourselves what happened there, and to stiffen our resolve of Nevermore! We’d be glad to share the rocks and that resolve with any of you who’d like. Be assured we washed them thoroughly to remove any plutonium dust! I’m going to carry one in my pocket as a reminder of the real "change" I’m reaching for.
We must remember, and we must resist. It matters, just as the whistleblowers and resisters who persisted in their efforts eventually saw Rocky Flats closed down.
Coming full circle, let us hear Carlos Zafon again:
"Wars have no memory, and nobody has the courage to understand them until there are no voices left to tell what happened, until the moment comes when we no longer recognize them and they return, with another face and another name, to devour what they left behind." ― Carlos Ruiz Zafón, The Shadow of the Wind
Because wars have no memories, our memories are precious. May each one here hold fast the memory of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and find our own way--whatever that may be-- to voice our opposition to nuclear weapons and to war, whatever its face and name.
Each Monday morning this year (when I’ve not been in Colorado), I go to the site of the new KC nuclear weapons parts plant in south Kansas City. I stand at the entrance with a sign asking, "Is It Good for the Grand-kids?" I know it’s absurd: one lone voice drowned out in the million-dollar-a-day construction noises, but I think of it as just one drop that will eventually be joined with other drops until there will be a torrent of truth like a Colorado flash flood, which can send boulders the size of automobiles tumbling end over end.
Thank you for being here today to add to the steady drip, drip, drip that one day will wear away the mountain of war, and nourish a valley of peace.
--Jim Hannah serves on the PeaceWorks Board.
Hiroshima Nagasaki Remembrance
Loose Park, Kansas City, MO
August 5, 2012
Remarks by Gayle June, son of Michiko June
My name is Gayle June and I am the eldest son of Michiko June, a survivor of the Nagasaki atom bombing, a vanishing group of people the Japanese call hibakusha, "explosion affected people."
At first feared and rejected, they are now deeply respected throughout the world for their perseverance and strength. My mother passed away a year ago last February, but she is present here today in many hearts, and in the words I have to share with you.
For those who knew her well, she did not fit the model of the traditional shy demure Japanese woman. At 4 foot 10 inches tall, she was small, but was she mighty!
Her father Yasuji Okada was a physician in Nagasaki and she was afforded an upper tier education, where she studied art and literature. She was familiar with the classics, played the piano, enjoyed classical and big band music, and appreciated fine art and design.
She attended Methodist Missionary College, learned English, converted to Christianity and continued her studies until the war began, when every citizen was required to help in the war effort.
Our mother, at the age of 18, was at the epicenter of a major world event. She was present at the Mitsubishi Torpedo factory on August 9, 1945, ground zero for the second atomic bomb to be dropped on Japan.
The necessity of that event is still being debated to this day. For our mother who lived through it, this is her story:
Toward the end of the war, there were very few able bodied men left to man the factories. Many women and children and elderly were required to fill in working at the munitions plants. Fortunately her area of the factory was moved into underground tunnels weeks before, and she and her co- workers survived the blast. Even though they were underground, she says they were aware of the flash.
After about 8 hours of waiting, Michiko, her best friend Taki, and several others were allowed to leave. They exited the tunnels to find the entire downtown gone and smoldering. All that were left were the railroad tracks which they followed to get home. Her neighborhood, 3.5 kilometers from the hypocenter, was protected from the blast because it was behind the base of a mountain. When she got home, her father was upstairs in their home shrine praying for the daughter he thought he lost.
The next days had to be indescribable.... Her father was credited with creating one of the first triages in the city. Mama described the marking of patients, ones that required immediate attention, ones that they could save, and ones that had no hope. She was heartbroken to see them put the hopeless patients next to the dead ones.
In the weeks to follow, people and friends that survived the blast and appeared healthy started becoming ill, passing blood, losing their hair, developing sores, a result of radiation poisoning caused by the radioactive fallout all around. I believe if her father was not a doctor, she and her family may have not have survived.
She met my father Sgt. Gallard June, who was an American GI stationed in Nagasaki for the Reconstruction Effort at a USO sponsored square dance. He was assigned to rebuilding the trust and good will between the American Occupation Forces and the Japanese population.
I would really like to acknowledge our father, her husband. His belief at the time was the common view shared by many Americans after Pearl Harbor, that the Japanese were a very evil and backward people. What he found when he arrived was that it was one of the most beautiful places he’d ever seen, ancient temples and gardens, amazing buildings with expert craftsmanship, a functioning society in harmony with nature. He fell in love with the people, the culture and the beauty of Japan.
It was a life transforming experience for him, and while he could identify with the victors of the war, he saw firsthand the tremendous cost that was paid by the mostly civilian population. Perhaps his marrying a Japanese woman and creating a life and family with her was his personal atonement for what happened.
A few weeks ago, I was cleaning out the hard drive of our home computer. I don’t know why I clicked on one particular file, but it was my son’s junior high history paper, written 15 years ago. It was the one where you have to interview a grandparent. As I read this paper, I could hear my mother’s voice as I read her answers to each of my son’s questions.
The next day, I received an email from Jane and Henry. They were inviting me to speak about my mother at this event. I’ve learned when the Universe calls, you better align with it!
So let me share with you this junior high interview between my son and his grandmother in her very own words...
My name is Nathan June and I am interviewing my grandmother, who is a Nagasaki Atomic Bomb survivor.
Me: Would you please state your name?
Grandma: My name is Michiko June.
Me: When was your date of birth?
Michiko: I was born on October 6, 1926.
Me: So about how old were you when the war broke out?
Michiko: I was about fifteen.
Me: So you were about nineteen when the bomb was dropped?
Me: About how far away from the bomb was your house?
Michiko: It was probably about a mile. Nagasaki is very mountainous, so my house was protected a little bit.
Me: Do you have any other family that survived?
Michiko: I have two sisters who also survived, and my father survived.
Me: What was school like for you?
Michiko: The school I went to was run by missionaries. So we had about four or five American teachers. So when the war started, they had to move back to the United States. We were told that they would be back in about four years, and sure enough, the war was over in four years.
Then I graduated high school and went to college, but in college we had to go to the factories to make torpedoes. We couldn’t say no, we had to go. We all went into the tunnel factories. All the high school kids, and even the elementary school kids.
Gradually the war went on for a few years, and then they started having Koreans dig the tunnels. They dug about six tunnels all the way through the mountain. Then they started moving all the machinery in there (the tunnels in the mountain).
Me: What were the tunnels like?
Michiko: They were pretty good looking tunnels, the outside was concrete, and inside they put all the machinery. Gradually they kept moving more machinery into the tunnels.
When the war ended with the atomic bomb, all of the electricity went out and it got black in the tunnel and you couldn’t work. At the same time the electricity went out, there was a bright flash of light.
That’s when we knew something was very wrong. We were quite a ways from the entrance to the cave, so we went up to see what happened. When we got closer to the entrance, we could see what looked like fire outside. When we got to the entrance I saw my supervisor, his neck was badly wounded and blood was spurting from it.
Me: So what did you do when you saw what had happened?
Michiko: We didn’t know what kind of bomb had been dropped, so we gradually started to leave the cave. Everything was all gone, everything was smoky. Even the railroad tracks were burning. Everything was ashes. That was all around eleven in the morning.
I wanted to go home, and some other high school kids wanted to go with me, so I took about four or five of them with me but we didn’t know where to go. All we could see were the train tracks. So we just started following the tracks. Then pretty soon we saw a dead body half burned, and I felt something warm underneath. I realized we were at the street car station. The night shift people had been there waiting to go home.
A lot of people were still there. They were dead. We were all numb. We couldn’t think we just kept walking. In the streets there were people crying "Water, please water." Everybody was half- burned. There was a river that ran through Nagasaki that we weren’t too far from where we were, so we said that we would help the get some water. After that we started walking along the tracks again, I looked over my left shoulder and saw a building still in flames.
You could see the flames pouring out the windows. The rest of the buildings were left in ashes. Finally we got back to Nagasaki station. From Nagasaki station we went south, which was ok, of course the windows in the houses were broken and the doors didn’t open or close very well, but because of the mountains the houses were ok. My house was at the end of the street, and when I got there I saw my father. He couldn’t believe that I had made it home.
Me: What was the heat like when you came out of the cave?
Michiko: The heat wasn’t very bad. The bomb was dropped around eleven o’clock in the morning, and we didn’t leave the cave till about five in the evening.
Me: What about the air, was it breathable?
Michiko: The air was ok, it had radiation in it because it was an atomic bomb, but we didn’t know what kind of bomb had been dropped, so we just went out. But the air was ok to breathe.
Me: Well after the first bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, did you think that the Americans would drop a second one?
Michiko: The United States actually dropped pamphlets telling us that they were going to drop a horrible bomb, but the police told everyone not to read it and that if they were to find one that they should turn it in.
Me: How were the Americans portrayed to you, as far as people go?
Michiko: We were told by the Japanese government that they were cruel and mean, we were supposed to be hiding in a cave or something. Many people were surprised to see them greeting us and shaking hands with us. They even drank saki with us and ate with us.
My father was a doctor and had been to forty countries including the United States, he said there was nothing to worry about, they (the US) didn’t like to fight and they weren’t going to kill anybody. A lot of neighbors went to go hide, but we just stayed at home.
Me: So what happened after the Americans came into Japan?
Michiko: After all that, the Marine Corp. came in and occupied Japan. Then everybody got together and tried to build some kind of a house, more of shack, for the people whose houses burned down. Then I walked to the center of the a-bomb to try and look for friends, because I still wanted to bring them water. Then the U.S. government came in, and since I spoke a little English, they hired me to translate for them. So I worked for them for a while, and at night they would have parties and square dances. I met your grandpa at one of those square dances.
Me: How did your family feel about you marrying an American?
Michiko: My father was a doctor on a ship and got to go to America many times and knew a lot of Americans, so he didn’t say much.
Me: Well Grandma, that’s about all of the questions I have. Domo Arigato
Michiko: Doi tashe maste
I have had the privilege of visiting the Memorial Peace Parks in Nagasaki and Hiroshima.
I continue to be deeply moved and committed to the pledge of peace which people from all faiths and nationalities affirm there. If there is one resolve which unites all the survivors, it is their prayer that such an atrocity never be repeated.
Engraved in the memorial cenotaph in Hiroshima where the names of victims are recorded in The Book of the Past is the inscription:
"Let all the souls here rest in peace, for we shall not repeat the evil."
At my mother’s service, our pastor enclosed in her casket a small paper origami crane with the following words:
Michiko-san, I pledge to you that I will work for peace until I too draw my last breath. There is a time for war and a time for peace; let the time for war now be complete and the time for peace prevail.
Jane and Henry Stover...thank you for your generous invitation to be here today to share my mother’s story. And thank you all in attendance here for your unstoppable commitment to a future where the option of nuclear war is forever erased from the human conversation. A realist might say that can never happen. I would argue that the realist simply lacks imagination. People that get it know that we create our own realities, by our speaking, our actions, and above all, our choices.
Allow me to leave you with one final poem written by an anonymous Japanese poet:
Ah, nightingale, with half your song expressed,
I leave for the next world – to hear the rest!
Opening remarks at KC’s 2012 Hiroshima/Nagasaki Remembrance
By Henry Stoever
What has changed between Aug. 6 and 9, 1945, and today?
Albert Einstein said, "The release of atom power has changed everything, except our way of thinking... the solution to this problem lies in the heart of mankind..."
Leading up to August, 1945, most persons had no idea of such a weapon of mass destruction. A few scientists refused to work on such a bomb. Almost 90% of the scientists who worked on the atomic bomb at Los Alamos, N.M., either wanted a demonstration to show Japan the awesome might or to not use the weapon at all.
When the atomic bomb was first tested and exploded, Robert Oppenheimer quoted from the Bhagavad Gita, "I am become death, the Shatterer of Worlds."
In 1948, US Army Chief of Staff General Omar Bradley said: "We have too many men of science, too few men of God. We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the Sermon of the Mount... The world has achieved brilliance without wisdom, power without conscience. Ours is a world of nuclear giants, and ethical infants. We know more about war than we know about peace, more about killing than we know about living..."
We here in KCMO live in the legacy of Hiroshima & Nagasaki. Our Kansas City Plant makes 85 percent of the parts for a nuclear weapon. Without those essential parts, that nuclear weapon would not work, could not work.
However, we have our 4th petition initiative waiting to go to ballot. Who would have imagined that we were able to gather over 5,000 signatures for a petition initiative?
We have had a record number of persons, over 80 persons, who have been arrested in civil resistance to these weapons of mass destruction.
We have worked on a huge public awareness campaign, and we have made the Kansas City Plant a controversial issue. One KCMO City Council-person said, "We, as a Council, have spent more time on this issue, than on any other issue."
Yes, our nuclear missiles remain on "hair-trigger" alert status, and we should take issue that this makes the entire world more vulnerable.
Yes, we have enough nuclear weapons to destroy this World, and/or bring Nuclear Winter upon us.
However, 189 nations have signed on to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which pledges to reduce nuclear weapons with the goal of total elimination of all nuclear weapons.
PeaceWorks and our national organization PEACE ACTION work tirelessly on these nuclear issues, as well as other organizations and churches.
I WISH TO RECOGNIZE THE GOOD WORKS AND EFFORTS OF:
All of the members and the Board of PeaceWorks, Kansas City;
All of the members of American Friends Service Committee;
All members of Vets for Peace, and the use of their sound equipment;
All members of the Kansas City Greens;
All members of Progressives United;
All members of Occupy Kansas City;
All members of the Catholic Worker Houses;
All persons of faith traditions;
All persons who do not ascribe to a particular faith-religious tradition;
All persons of Good Will.
We must call for a restoration of a "right mind": NO NUKES!
We call for the healing of the planet and all its peoples: NO NUKES!
We call for precious resources to go to universal health for all, improved health care, improved education, improved care for the elderly, disabled, veterans and the needy peoples of this world: NO NUKES!
We call for work and products that are life-giving and useful, such as "green jobs," environmentally friendly jobs: NO NUKES!
We call for further reduction of nuclear weapons, and a peaceful settlement of the issues concerning the Middle East: NO NUKES!
We call for the protection of all life and our survival as a species: NO NUKES!
We call for respect and understanding for our veterans, especially our Vets For Peace: NO NUKES!
We call for more LOVE & CONCERN in our actions and attitudes toward all peoples of the world, and for the promotion of non-violence: NO NUKES!
--Henry Stoever chairs the PeaceWorks-KC Board of Directors.
Hiroshima/Nagasaki Remembered 2011
As we mourn the U.S.'s unleashing of nuclear bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we work to free the planet from nukes. Join PeaceWorks and other peace groups at the remembrance, held at Loose Park by the lagoon, 5300 Wornall Road, KC, Mo. The potluck begins at 6:30 pm; the ceremony is from 7:30 to 8:30 pm, including the sounding of a gong 66 times, floating lanterns, and speakers.
Sculptor Beth Vannatta, from Halstead, Kan., will reflect on the exhibit she's bringing to our ceremony: "The Wages of War."
Joshua McElwee, writer and photographer for National Catholic Reporter, will telephone us from Hiroshima to share his insights on being in the once-devastated city as thousands gather there to witness for peace. McElwee has written many articles on the ongoing opposition to the current nuclear weapons plant at Banister Federal Complex and the new one under construction in southern KC, on Mo. Hwy. 150.
Steve Leeper, chair of the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation, has sent a letter to Kansas Citians, urging, "We stand at a perilous crossroads. Either we get rid of them all (nuclear weapons), including U.S. weapons, or we let everyone have them. If we let everyone have them, it is only a matter of time before they are used. ... For Kansas City, the first step is to shut down your ecocide factory." (Leeper's full letter is available here.) The ceremony will include Leeper's letter and perhaps a phone conversation with him from Hiroshima.
For information on the ceremony, call Henry Stoever of PeaceWorks, 913-375-0045.Download 2011 Hiroshima Remembrance Flyer
Hiroshima/Nagasaki Remembered 2010
Ninety-five Kansas Citians gathered in 100-degree heat at Loose Park Aug. 8 for PeaceWorks’ annual remembrance of the Hiroshima/Nagasaki bombings Aug. 6 and 9, 1945.
Photos by Jim Hannah. (Click on a photo to enlarge it.)