Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Hiroshima/ Nagasaki: A Call from Civil Society to End the Menace of Nuclear Terror- Remembrance Service held in Des Moines Tues., Aug. 9, 2016

    Approximately 100 people participated in the annual event in Des Moines to remember the terrible atomic bombing in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan in 1945- 71 years ago.
By Christine Sheller

    The weather was warm, but the shade was cool on the south side of the bell.  People gathered to hear from several speakers and readings, and sing together for peace.
    Jeffrey Weiss & Erika McCroskey, education director and director, respectively, of Catholic Peace Ministry gave opening words.  After opening, Christine Sheller read excerpts from the Peace Declaration by the Mayor of Hiroshima, in his annual proclamation on the August 6 anniversary of the bombing.  Among other things, in the statement from Mayor Kazumi Matsui, Sheller relayed that currently there are more than 15,000 nuclear weapons in the world- each individually more destructive than the one that inflicted Hiroshima and Nagasaki’s tragedy 71 years ago.
    Third, Frank Cordaro of Catholic Worker spoke.  He shared a bit about how Offutt Airforce Base is not far from Des Moines, in the Omaha area.  Des Moines would be affected if a nuclear weapon was targeted there.  He also encouraged hearers to work for peace locally and to speak out against nuclear weapons.
    Following tradition, the story of the Japanese bell was shared- Erika McCroskey shared that for attendees.  It may be viewed at the bell site- as it is in plaque near the bell.
    We sang “Let There Be Peace on Earth,” led by Jess Hoffert, followed by our second speaker- Mayor Frank Cownie.

Mayor Cownie spoke of his experience on Mayors for Peace, an international group, who is promoting the total abolition of nuclear weapons around the world.  Des Moines’ city government is on record to call for a world without nuclear weapons.
    McCroskey made some closing remarks, then we heard a beautiful closing song by Maya and Kali Weiss- “The Prayer.”

    Before attendees were invited to bring their flowers up the steps to the bell, Daishin McCabe led us in a reflection on the special gift of the bell, and he instructed us how to ring the bell, and then the flower-laying & bell-ringing started, to end the service.

Christine Sheller is editor and coordinator for Iowa Peace Network, and holds a Master of Divinity from Bethany Theological Seminary.

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