Eugene Weekly : Viewpoint : 8.2.07

Never Again
We remember Hiroshima, Nagasaki

Together with communities around the world, the Eugene community is gathering to commemorate the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Sixty-two years ago this August, the U.S. dropped nuclear bombs on these cities, the only nuclear bombs ever used before or since in conflict in this world. It is estimated that more than 100,000 people died in the immediate aftermath of the explosions, and untold thousands experienced slow and painful deaths from radiation sickness in the months and years that followed.

We will gather at Aug. 5 (see details below) to re-awaken our hearts and our memories of what happened Aug. 6 and 9, 1945, and to teach those who are too young to understand what transpired those days. It is imperative that we never forget what happened and that we do everything we can to make sure it never happens again.

The Iraq War has pushed the nuclear weapons issue to the back burner. However, the nuclear threat has not gone away. The U.S. still has huge quantities of nuclear weapons, many on hair-trigger alert, ready to be used at a moments notice. The Bush administration is devoting billions of dollars to develop and build new nuclear weapons, returning our nation’s production capacity of nuclear weapons to Cold War levels and pushing to develop the first new nuclear warhead in nearly two decades.

The Bush administration has stated that the U.S. has the right to use nuclear weapons against countries who do not have them and that the use of those weapons does not require an imminent threat against our country. It’s conceivable that the administration could order a nuclear attack against Iran even though this would cause a regional conflagration that could result in the deaths of millions of people.

It’s time to intensify the challenge to the Bush administration’s nuclear program and take action to abolish nuclear weapons. As the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki rose out of the ashes to devote themselves to the building of a peaceful world, we must join with other groups around the world who are also proclaiming never again!

Grassroots action is making a difference. Congress has refused to provide any funding for the Bush administration’s proposal to build new nuclear weapons facility. The House Appropriations Committee recently cut the nuclear weapons budget proposed by the Bush administration by $630 million, increased support for nuclear non-proliferation programs by nearly $1 billion and declined to give the administration any money for what would have been the first new nuclear weapon in two decades, the so-called Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW).

Along with political action, it’s critical that we honor those who died or have suffered at the hands of the U.S. nuclear weapons complex. We’ll be gathering to acknowledge and condemn the racism in our country that permitted our government to murder so many innocent civilian Japanese people, remembering also with sadness and anger the internment during World War II of so many thousands of innocent Japanese-American people living in our country.

We will mourn the suffering of Native American people during and prior to that war who worked the uranium mines in Indian country, unaware of the hazards to their health and the use to which this uranium would be put.

Please join us at Alton Baker Park as we bind our community of friendship more strongly with each other here and others around the world — deepening our courage, finding our creativity, and strengthening our commitment to abolish nuclear weapons. We’ll share food, listen to Bob Watada and other speakers and discuss action alternatives. We’ll honor those who died at Hiroshima and Nagasaki by quietly floating paper lanterns to the beautiful koto music of Mitsuki Dazai. As they light the darkness, they’ll also lighten the hearts of those whose have released them and provide hope that we can attain a nuclear-free world.

Michael Carrigan is the community organizer for CALC’s peace program, Progressive Reponses. Peg Morton is a Quaker activist working for peace and justice. The Hiroshima-Nagasaki commemoration will be held Sunday, Aug. 5 at Alton Baker Park’s small shelter, located near the park entrance and the duck pond. The event will start at 6:30 pm with a community potluck. At 7:30 pm there will be a program featuring Bob Watada. The event will close at 8:30 pm with the floating of candle lanterns on the Duck Pond. For more information, contact Carrigan at or 485-1755.