Tuesday, August 21, 2018

“Remembering Hiroshima/ Nagasaki: When Will We Stop the Killing?” Observance held Aug. 6, 2018 in Des Moines

By Christine Sheller

Approximately 60 people attended the annual observance of the U.S. atomic bombing on Hiroshima and Nagasaki that happened over 73 years ago, August 6th, 2018 in Des Moines. 
It was held at the Japanese Bell of Peace and Friendship, on the state capitol grounds, as it has been for years.  The bell is a symbol of peace between Japan and the U.S., as it was given to Iowa by another city in Japan, now a sister city, in gratitude for what Iowa had done for them.  Observers brought their own chairs, and sat on the south side of the bell to enjoy the shade.

                                           (J. Krieg/ AFSC) Japanese Bell with sculpture in background

Gathering music inaugurated the event, and then group singing was led by Rev. Mary Beth Mardis-Lecroy of “Down By the Riverside.”  Mayor Frank Cownie welcomed attendees.  He shared about his involvement with Mayors for Peace, an international organization.  Jeffrey Weiss, education director at Catholic Peace Ministry, read from the proclamation by the mayor in Hiroshima.  The mayor of Hiroshima writes and delivers a proclamation every year at the anniversary date of the bombing.  Weiss read an excerpt.

Next, Mary Hansen Harrison, WILPF of the U.S., stationed here in Des Moines, shared memories of Sherry Hutchison, who was a long time peace activist here in Des Moines, active with WILPF, Iowa Peace Network, and the Des Moines Valley Friends Meeting.  In her last few years, she was still leading the planning of the Hiroshima/ Nagasaki observance.

The main speaker was Rev. Debbie Griffin of Downtown Disciples.  She gave a moving speech.  That was followed by music from Maya and Kali Weiss, “The Prayer.”  Next, Patti McKee, director of Catholic Peace Ministry, led the litany printed in the programs.  Eloise Cranke, coordinator of the Iowa chapter of MFSA (Methodist Federation for Social Action) read the story of the bell. The closing prayer was led by Ako Abdul Samad, director of Creative Visions in Des Moines. 

The observance was closed by group singing of “Peace Like a River,” and lining up to strike the bell and lay flowers around the bell. 

Thank you to the co-sponsors:  Catholic Peace Ministry; Church Women United, DM Area Unit; Des Moines Area Religious Council; Des Moines Area Sisters of Humility; Des Moines Catholic Worker; Des Moines Ecumenical Committee for Peace; Des Moines Intentional Eucharistic Community; Roman Catholic Diocese of Des Moines Sister Council; First Unitarian Church of Des Moines; Iowa Peace Network; Iowa Poor People’s Campaign; Mary Ann Koch; Methodist Federation for Social Action; Plymouth U.C.C. Peace Committee; STAR*PAC; Veterans for Peace, Chapter 163; and Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Des Moines Branch.

Christine Sheller is editor & coordinator for Iowa Peace Network.  She is a graduate of Bethany Theological Seminary.

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