Opening Words from Sun. August 6 by Joyce Best

Today we commemorate the August 6, 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan.

72 years ago I was a naive teenager not really aware of the rest of the world. But, in 1950, at the Estes Park, Colorado Y College Conference, I purchased the book we had talked about. It left an impression that has never left me. It is a book length epic poem that tells of the horrors of the BOMB, how it devastated Hiroshima, and how it affected the United States of America. It is about our freedoms, security, Los Alamos…religious but on a good sense…worth reading.

A bomb fell on Hiroshima.
A bomb fell, and the cloud spread.
It spread over cities, over churches, schools, homes,
Darting malignant rays carrying slow death.
It spread, it hung,
Over the minds, over the hearts of men.

A bomb fell on Hiroshima.
It wasn’t much in size, as bombs go, it wasn’t much in weight.
Its charge might have been confined in the red envelope of a child’s balloon.
An ordinary bomb that size might have blown out the fronts of two or three houses and killed perhaps a dozen people.
But this bomb was no bomb like other bombs.
It destroyed every house within a radius of two miles and killed upward of one hundred thousand human beings.

Recently I reread John Hershey’s HIROSHIMA, first published in THE NEW YORKER in 1946, about his account of 6 survivors of the bomb, the HIBAKUSHA. In the late 60’s, a group of hibakusha came to the US to tell their stories and impress on us how nuclear war must never happen. An hibakusha woman and her interpreter were guests in our home. Our family heard her story first hand and we remember her courage and suffering. Currently the hibakusha is sponsoring an appeal to the United Nations for a strong treaty to ban nuclear weapons. It is on the internet.

For many years near August 6, our local Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and other peace groups have had a speaker and a memorial ceremony honoring Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In recent years, it has been here at the Ethical Society. Every year, the mayor of Hiroshima sends a letter which we read. It is very moving. In Hiroshima 70,000 were killed in the initial blast, and the 5 year deaths total 200,000, with more each year. Everyone should read and see pictures of the victims and survivors.

Many cities have demonstrations against nuclear weapons and nuclear testing. We must use our information to non-violently work for the elimination of nuclear weapons and testing if we hope for world peace. Churches have adopted resolutions with a “clear and unconditional NO to nuclear war and nuclear weapons” as well as support for the “Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty” and other nonproliferation treaties. Our American Ethical Union has passed resolutions supporting nuclear disarmament since 1954.

We know the effects from 2 atomic bombs, the effects of experimentation, effects from Fukushima. Damages have been done to people and places in New Mexico and Nevada during our nuclear testing, starting in July 1945. Since 1952, there have been 33 serious incidents and accidents on 4 continents. Some we know about: like 3 mile Island and Chernobyl-but Argentina? Switzerland?

There are 30,000 weapons world wide in 9 countries. 1500 are ready to launch at a moments notice. Polls show people around the world support bans on nuclear weapons.

THE BULLETIN OF ATOMIC SCIENTISTS on the 70th anniversary of THE DOOMSDAY CLOCK shows we are 2 1/2 minutes from midnight. Climate change has been added to the global catastrophe. The need for action is urgent.

New material is being published. I just read about the horrors of Nagasaki in a new children’s book survivor story, SACHIKO. She studied the non–violence of Ghandi, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Helen Keller.

We can read, sign petitions, write letters, MARCH, talk, join groups, keep informed.
Come back to the Ethical Society tonight at 5:30 for a pot luck and speeches remembering Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

NOTE: The ideas and opinions in this post do not necessarily express the thoughts or opinions of the Ethical Society of St. Louis or its leadership.