Peace before us.
Peace behind us.
Peace under our feet.

Intoning this Navaho Peace Song, Lauren Hall led 70 PeaceWorks members and friends in closing the 2017 Hiroshima/Nagasaki Remembrance.

Hall, a member of the PeaceWorks Board, gave us gestures for the song at Loose Park in KC MO. “In the peace and quiet of this beautiful park we’ve been in this evening,” she said, “there is hope for tomorrow!”

Weaving sorrow and hope, Ron Faust, also of the PeaceWorks Board, read his poem “Pursuing Peace.” Focusing on remembering, each Aug. 6, the attack on Hiroshima that day in 1945, Faust said:

I mourn
How any enemy deserves
The unleashing of such fury …
pausing to remember this day
Implies the restraint on any bully
Whoever owns nuclear weapons …
PeaceWorks calls for a ban
On nuclear weapons.
Let it be soul,
So we are sending out a message
To pulsate the heart waves
That peace is already here
As we breathe it
And dream it
And pursue it.

Surrounded by singing cicadas as speakers shared their thoughts, participants resonated with flute music floating over the lagoon. Michael McGrath played ’Tis the Gift to Be Simple, a Shaker hymn including these lines:

When we find ourselves in the place just right,
’Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

That evening, the yearning for love and delight indeed took center stage. Gayle June spoke of his mother, Michiko Okada June, “small but mighty.” As an 18-year-old in Nagasaki, she was spared during the US attack because she and her classmates were at work in an underground factory. Eight hours after the blast, they were allowed to go outside. “It was a nightmare. People were burnt and bleeding. She had to walk through Ground Zero to get home,” said June.

Gayle June displays pictures of his mother, Michiko Okada June.

Michiko met her future husband at a USO gathering, a young soldier from Tuscumbia, GA, who fell in love with the people of Japan and then Michiko, said June. Four years after his mother died in 2011, June asked people to mail him
origami peace cranes to place over his mother’s grave. “I received 1,600 cranes from all over the world in ten weeks,” he said. “We are not alone! … We confuse force with power. People who lack power need force. Truly powerful people need
no force because real power is love.”

Top photo: Gayle June decorated his mother’s grave with peace cranes and then shared some 1,400 peace cranes with the Community of Christ Temple in Independence, the source of these cranes that graced the Hiroshima/Nagasaki Remembrance.
—Photos by Mark Semet