Peace activists will have events in Oak Ridge and Knoxville starting Saturday and ending Wednesday that will recall the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, during World War II, and the activists will call for a ban on nuclear weapons.
The events have been organized by the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance. OREPA has events each August remembering the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki near the end of World War II. The Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge enriched uranium for the first atomic bomb used in wartime. Code-named “Little Boy,” the bomb was dropped over Hiroshima, Japan, on August 6, 1945, shortly before the end of the war.
OREPA has scheduled a Saturday event called “And We Are Saying Peace.” It will start at 12:30 p.m. with a concert and theater presentation at Alvin K. Bissell Park in Oak Ridge. Those who attend will call on the United States to join the countries that passed a legal treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons at the United Nations on July 7, a press release said.
The Saturday event will also mark the conclusion of a peace pilgrimage from Asheville, North Carolina, to Oak Ridge, led by the Buddhist order Nipponzan Myohoji, the press release said. The walk left Asheville last Sunday and is expected to arrive at Bissell Park on Saturday. The final leg will leave Solway at 9 a.m. Saturday.
The Bissell Park concert will be followed by the annual march to Y-12.
“The U.S. produces thermonuclear cores for W76 warheads at Y-12 and plans to spend billions of dollars building a new bomb plant, the UPF (Uranium Processing Facility), over the next 10 years,” the press release said.
“Less than one month ago, 122 nations voted to approve a treaty that will ban nuclear weapons,” OREPA Coordinator Ralph Hutchison said. “The United States, to its shame, refused to participate in the treaty negotiations. Nevertheless, the treaty will have the force of law when it goes into effect, and we will be an outlaw state, along with North Korea, Russia, and other nations that possess nuclear weapons.
“Now, in August, as the world remembers Hiroshima, we call on the United States to stop wasting money on the UPF bomb plant and, instead, to sign the ban treaty in September.”
The press release said the march to Y-12 will culminate in a nonviolent direct action that will include attaching yellow “Xs” to the fence surrounding the nuclear weapons plant.
“The Yellow X is a simple symbol of the illegality of nuclear weapons,” Hutchison said. “In the face of government failure, we are stepping up to say ‘no’ to the UPF and ‘no’ to nuclear weapons.”
The Saturday concert in Bissell Park will feature The Emancipators, local musicians who bill themselves as “subversive hootenanny,” and the Catalystica Players theater troupe, the press release said.
OREPA has a Names and Remembrance Ceremony in Oak Ridge on Sunday, August 6, the anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. The ceremony will be at the main entrance to Y-12 on Scarboro Road. The ceremony will begin at 6 a.m. and continue until 9 a.m., the press release said.
“The Names and Remembrance Ceremony recalls the destruction of Hiroshima, Japan, by the Little Boy atomic bomb on August 6, 1945,” the press release said. “It includes a reading of names of victims of the bomb, the tolling of a peace bell, paper cranes, Buddhist drumming and chanting, eyewitness and contemporaneous accounts of the bombing, and poetry and writing by survivors.”
Everyone is welcome, the press release said. Participants are welcomed to join in the reading or simply observe. The ceremony pauses at 8:15 a.m., the time of the detonation of the atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima, the release said.
OREPA will then have a Peace Lantern Ceremony in Knoxville on Wednesday, August 9. That ceremony recalls the bombing of Nagasaki. It will start at 8 p.m. Wednesday at the far west end of Sequoyah Hills Park in Knoxville, in the field adjacent to the parking area at the west end of Cherokee Drive, the press release said.
The ceremony will include music, Buddhist drumming and chanting, a litany of remembrance, Japanese shadow puppets, and the launching of traditional Japanese peace lanterns at dusk.
“The Peace Lantern ceremony has grown more meaningful each year,” Hutchison said. “It is a time not only to look back and remember, but to look forward with resolve, joining our voices with the hibakusha who survived the atomic bombings, to say ‘Never Again!’”
There is also a peace lantern building party, according to the press release. It will be held at the Riverside Nonviolent Catholic Worker house at 4627 Martin Mill Pike in south Knoxville, starting at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, August 8.
Everyone is welcome at the all-ages event, and materials are provided, the release said.
Oak Ridge and its three major federal sites were built during World War II as part of the Manhattan Project. That was a top-secret federal program to build the world’s first atomic weapons, before Germany could. Besides Y-12, the other two major federal sites were K-25 (now East Tennessee Technology Park) and X-10 (now Oak Ridge National Laboratory).
More information will be added as it becomes available.
Do you appreciate this story or our work in general? If so, please consider a monthly subscription to Oak Ridge Today. See our Subscribe page here. Thank you for reading Oak Ridge Today.
Copyright 2017 Oak Ridge Today. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.