Events planned in Oak Ridge and Knoxville on Friday and Saturday will commemorate the U.S. bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, near the end of World War II, as organizers call for the abolition of nuclear weapons.
“There is a new energy for abolition,” said Ralph Hutchison, coordinator of the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance. “Here and around the globe, actions and events will echo the demand of the international community in the Ban Treaty: nuclear weapons states give up their weapons.”
A press release from OREPA cited the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Under that treaty, the international community outlawed nuclear weapons, organizers said. The treaty was passed by 122 nations in June 2017 and entered into this past January, the press release said.
“There are only two possible endings to the story of nuclear weapons,” said Beatrice Fihn, director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, 2017 recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. “Either we end nuclear weapons, or they will us. There is no other possible ending.”
There will be a Names and Remembrance Ceremony across from the main entrance to the Y-12 National Security Complex at Scarboro Road and Bear Creek Road from 6-9 a.m. Friday, August 6, the press release said. Y-12 manufactures nuclear weapons parts for the National Nuclear Security Administration, and the plant enriched uranium for the first atomic bomb used in war.
The press release said there will be a rally, march, and demonstration for abolition beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday at Alvin K. Bissell Park in Oak Ridge. Participants will march to Y-12 at about 11:45 a.m. and demonstrate at Y-12 around 12:30 p.m.
A Peace Lantern Ceremony is scheduled for 8 p.m. Saturday at Sequoia Hills Park in Knoxville.
The press release said the eyewitness accounts of some of the survivors of the bombings and nuclear weapons tests informed the discussion that led to the passage of the Ban Treaty 76 years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
“We must assert, with far more urgency, that nuclear weapons cannot coexist with humankind,” said Takato Michishita, survivor of Nagasaki. Yoshiro Yamawaki, who was 11 years old when the plutonium-fueled Fat Man bomb destroyed his home in Nagasaki, said, “Weapons of this capacity must be abolished from the Earth.”
The press release cited Hiroshima survivor Setsuko Thurlow as she accepted the Nobel Peace Prize: “Today, I want you to feel in this hall the presence of all those who perished in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I want you to feel, above and around us, a great cloud of a quarter million souls. Each person had a name. Each person was loved by someone. Let us ensure that their deaths were not in vain.”
Hutchison said the discussion about nuclear weapons has been about policy and military force for too long.
“This conversation masks the reality of nuclear weapons: If even a small fraction of them are used, the planet we live on will no longer sustain life,” Hutchison said. “Hundreds of millions will die instantly; the rest will starve during the long nuclear winter that follows. So we are gathering on Friday and Saturday ‘in the presence of all those who perished.’ We are joining our voices with the survivors to say, ‘Now is the time to abolish nuclear weapons from the Earth.’”
Visit https://orepa.org/never-again/ for more information.
In a separate ceremony that is also Friday morning, the National Park Service has a bell-ringing ceremony in Alvin K. Bissell Park. In that ceremony, the Manhattan Project National Historical Park will be ringing the International Friendship Bell at dawn 76 times on Friday, August 6, to commemorate the effects of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. See this story for more information.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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