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Iowans commemorate Hiroshima-Nagasaki

Grace Amemiya at Hiroshima commemoration 8-6-12
Grace Amemiya, who spent time in a Japanese Internment camp during World War II, speaks in Des Moines about her experiences at the 2012 commemoration of the Hiroshima-Nagasaki bombings. For more photos from the rally, click here. Photo: Jon Krieg / AFSC

[Adopted from a press release by Sherry Hutchison of WILPF and Des Moines Valley Friends Meeting.]

“From Hiroshima to Fukushima: the Nuclear Question” was the theme of the annual Hiroshima/Nagasaki observance at the Japanese Bell on the Iowa capitol grounds. Sixty Iowans attended the commemoration of the 67th anniversary of the bombings.

Grace Amemiya, of Ames, spoke about her experiences at a Japanese internment camp during World War II. State Rep. Dan Kelley, of Newton, spoke about the connection between Hiroshima and Fukushima. People brought flowers from gardens to place around the bell as each person tolled it.

Several organizations, including AFSC, co-sponsored the event. To view photos of the commemoration, click here.

The following written statement from State Sen. Rob Hogg, of Cedar Rapids was read at the commemoration:

"Today, we remember the nuclear bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki 67 years ago, the victims who were vaporized immediately, the victims who died in the days and weeks that followed, the victims who died of cancer years later and the victims who were asked to carry out the attack -- all victims because our political system failed to prevent the war in the Pacific and put otherwise loving humans in a position where the instant destruction of cities and hundreds of thousands of people seemed not only necessary but good.

"Those attacks not only killed hundreds of thousands of people, they also forever changed how humans think about - and need to think about - the world.  For it was those two days more than any other that showed humans have the power to bring catastrophe to our planet.

"Today, that threat continues with not only the threat of weapons of mass destruction, but also the threats of nuclear disaster and global environmental pollution.

"Disasters in Chernybol and Fukushima demand that we say no to new nuclear plants as we provide the vigilance that will be required for this and for many future generations to manage the nuclear materials that have already been produced.

"We need to say no to new nuclear plants, not only in Iowa but around the world.  Civilian nuclear plants led to nuclear weapons in India.  Civilian nuclear plants led to nuclear weapons in Pakistan.  We must make sure that civilian nuclear plants do not lead to nuclear weapons anywhere else, as we reduce and someday soon eliminate our own nuclear plants and nuclear weapons here at home.

"What is the alternative?  Is it coal and more fossil fuels?  No - not that either - our global environment cannot sustain more coal and more fossil fuels.  We need to learn to live without coal, without fossil fuels, and without nuclear.

"The answer is simple. In the words of the prophet, our job is to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God.

"Let us pledge this to ourselves and to the people we remember today."