The annual Hiroshima/Nagasaki Remembrance, hosted by PeaceWorks, Kansas City, at Loose Park Lagoon in Kansas City, Missouri, gathered 66 persons to hear talks, sing and take a vow of nonviolence. Calling for acts of love, Henry Stoever, chair of the PeaceWorks Board, said in opening the program, “We cannot undo tragedy. We can say we are sorry. We can build a better world. We can be compassionate. We can walk the journey, accompanying those who are suffering. We can be love.”
PeaceWorks Board member Sunny Hamrick rang a gong 73 times to mark the years since the Aug. 6 and Aug. 9, 1945, nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. PeaceWorks treasurer Dave Pack compared the bombs dropped in Hiroshima (15 kt or kilotons) and Nagasaki (21 kt) with today’s bombs, between 300 and 500 kt, some 20-30 times the power of the1945 bombs. However, Pack observed, “We come in hope, for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons passed on July 7, 2017, by a United Nations vote of 122 in favor, 1 against, 1 abstention, with 69 non-voting nations.” By now, 59 nations have signed the treaty, and 14 have ratified it, out of the 50 ratifications needed for the treaty to take effect. Pack said this year’s program was held “in remembrance and in hope.”
Atsuki Mori, a Japanese woman living in Warrensburg, Missouri, spoke of her grandmother, who lived in Osaka, Japan, during the 1945 bombing of Hiroshima. Her grandmother became a physician, Mori said, but added, “My grandfather was hard to deal with. She (Mori’s grandmother) did not have a good life as a wife.” After both grandparents died, an old photo album surfaced, including a large photo of a young man dead, with flowers around his face. “He looked like he was sleeping,” Mori said. The family realized the man was the grandmother’s former fiancé. “I think he died because of leukemia” from the Hiroshima bombing, said Mori. If the atomic bomb were never dropped, she added, “my grandmother would have been much happier.”
Mori thanked PeaceWorks for holding the Hiroshima / Nagasaki Remembrance on Aug. 5, in the evening, because 6:15 pm local time in Kansas City is the same as 8:15 am on August 6 in Hiroshima, which was the time the bomb was dropped in 1945. Our group in Kansas City and people in Hiroshima were witnessing for peace at the same time, given the difference in time zones.
Michael McGrath, of Kansas City, Kansas, played three flute pieces:
- Koito Utatate, Transcription donated to public domain by Tom Potter in 2008.
- Koujou no Tsuki downloaded from IMSLP (copyright Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0).
- ‘Tis the Gift to be Simple, a traditional Shaker Hymn from 1848.
Benedictine Sister Barbara McCracken, of Atchison, Kansas, reflected on the nonviolent protests of the renewed Poor People’s Campaign (PPC). The PPC harks back to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s campaign to protest poverty, racism and militarism. The current campaign also targets environmental degradation. McCracken joined demonstrations on two weeks in Topeka, with the second action being the occupation of a conference room in the office building of the state’s Attorney General Kris Kobach. McCracken noted Kobach’s “dangerous efforts to make life difficult legally for immigrants” and “his efforts at voter suppression.” She said civil resistance is “not done expecting immediate results—that hardly ever happens. It is much more a matter of conscience and of public witness.”
Henry Stoever said five persons, including himself, Hamrick, and Tom Fox, had crossed the property line at Kansas City’s new nuclear weapons parts plant on May 28 and may have a trial date this fall.
Ann Suellentrop, M.S.R.N., reported on her recent five-week trip to Germany to protest the 20 U.S. B61 nuclear bombs at Buchel Air Force Base. Surveys indicate 93 percent of the German public want the nuclear weapons removed. Suellentrop told the Aug. 5 audience, “The Kansas City Plant is making parts for the new B61-12 life extension program, which will replace the current B61s in a couple of years. That means these new bombs will last into the 2070s!” Suellentrop talked with her colleagues abroad about the plant in Kansas City, and she says, “A group of Europeans want to come to Kansas City next year to protest!” Links to stories in English on the protests of US nuclear weapons in Germany are below, as well as other links related to nuclear weapon opposition.
Tom Fox, former editor and publisher of the National Catholic Reporter, spoke to the Aug. 5 gathering about the distance between Kansas City and Hiroshima, 6,533 miles. “But tonight there is no distance between Hiroshima and Kansas City,” he insisted. “And in this night, we are gathered at the very same time many thousands are gathered in Japan. So time and space have evaporated.”
“Hiroshima is now more than a place,” Fox said. “Hiroshima is an idea. Hiroshima is a movement. Hiroshima is a way of life. Hiroshima is a future without nuclear weapons.” Referring to many memorial events around the world, he continued, “It behooves us and others to gather not just to mourn but also to move forward. Every single one of us is providing hope.”
Ron Faust read the following poem which he wrote for the occasion of the Kansas City event.
Slaughtering humanity repeatedly
Semi-automated weapons strike
At the heart of a caring society
Feelings stop for humanity
When we no longer have empathy
And we become cold and brutal
And the future depends on enough love
To counter balance any Hiroshima
That promotes mass destruction.
Note: Ron Faust, holder of the copyright for this poem, gave permission for it to be used here.
Well, I went down to the governor’s house
And I took back what they stole from me
And I took back my dignity
And I took back my humanity!
Now they’re under my feet (3X)
And there ain’t no system gonna walk all over me!
Links on efforts to address the dangers of nuclear weapons
News stories about protest of U.S. nuclear weapons in Germany
Divestment: ICAN’s Don’t Bank on the Bomb
The International Coalition to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) has identified hundreds of banks, pension funds, insurance companies and asset managers around the world with substantial investments in nuclear arms producers. The report Don’t Bank on the Bomb, updated annually by PAX, provides details of financial transactions with companies that are heavily involved in the manufacture, maintenance and modernization of US, British, French and Indian nuclear forces.
Weapons Free Funds Database
When we pay taxes, donate money to a local church, pay for college tuition, contribute to our 401(k), or renew union dues, we may be unwittingly contributing to the war economy. Many types of
institutions – from corporations to universities to faith groups and municipalities – invest their holdings in asset management firms, like Vanguard, BlackRock, and Fidelity, which in turn reinvest that money in weapons manufacturers and military contractors. Check if you’re unknowingly financing war with the new searchable Weapon Free Funds database. See https://worldbeyondwar.org/
Bad Honeywell – Divest and Boycott
Honeywell manages the KC nuclear weapons parts plant and the Sandia nuclear weapons lab in New Mexico. It has also been involved in making the Reaper drone, as well as fracking, Canadian tar sands mining, Keystone XL Pipeline, Israeli weapons, and environmental contamination such as weapons made with depleted uranium and in uranium mining.
Count the Money
One trillion dollars is being spent to modernize the nuclear arsenals of nine countries over the next 10 years. This Count the Money campaign is going to show the scale of this investment and how it could be devoted to peace and humanitarian needs, rather than the threat of nuclear annihilation while governments meet at the United Nations for the UN General Assembly and UN Disarmament Week, Oct. 24-30, 2018. We’re going to count the money by hand, $10million per minute in $1million dollar notes, in front of the United Nations and at other publicly visible places in New York City. Counting will take 7 days and nights. See http://www.nuclearweaponsmoney.org/count-the-money/
Kansas City will be a major transport hub for radioactive waste if the proposed Holtec Central Interim Storage facility in New Mexico or the permanent repository in Yucca Mountain in Nevada is approved. Kevin Kamps from Beyond Nuclear may speak in Kansas City this fall about this threat to our health and environment. For more info, see http://www.beyondnuclear.org/(“Environmental coalition letter to U.S. House of Representatives urges opposition to funding for Yucca and CIS dumps,” in “Radioactive waste” section)