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Lanterns on the lake at Alexandra Park

Lanterns on the lake at Alexandra Park.

Peace in the park

To commemorate the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and in remembrance of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan, Hastings Against War invites you to attend their annual memorial event at Alexandra Park. HOT’s Zelly Restorick contacted Rona from Hastings Against War to find out more about the event. 

Nuclear warning sign

Nuclear warning sign.

On 6 August 1945, the US dropped an atomic bomb – ‘Little Boy’ – on the city centre of Hiroshima in Japan. Three days later, a second atomic bomb – ‘Fat Man’ – was dropped on the city of Nagasaki. (Imagine – it was someone’s job to come up with names for these weapons of mass destruction – and ‘Little Boy’ and ‘Fat Man’ were the ones chosen.) These are the only times nuclear weapons have been used in war.

Hiroshima city centre was an area crowded with wooden residential structures and places of business, meaning that the death toll and destruction were particularly high.  The firestorm in Hiroshima ultimately destroyed 13 square kilometres (five square miles) of the city. Estimates of total deaths have generally ranged between 100,000 and 180,000, from a population of 350,000. Almost 63% of the buildings were completely destroyed after the bombing and nearly 92% of the structures in the city were damaged by blast and fire.

Cibo anti nuclear sign

Cibo anti nuclear sign.

Due to the hilly geography of Nagasaki and the bombing focus being away from the city centre, the damage from the bombing was limited to the Urakami Valley and part of downtown Nagasaki. However, the nuclear bombing did nevertheless prove devastating, with estimates of casualties generally ranging between 50,000 and 100,000 and approximately 22.7% of Nagasaki’s buildings being consumed by flames.

On 11 March 2011, at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, a tsunami triggered a meltdown of three of the plant’s six nuclear reactors, resulting in the release of substantial amounts of radioactive materials.

The full repercussions of the bombings and the nuclear power plant leak, not only on Japan but on the wider world, are, of course, unknown.

Lighting the lanterns

Lighting the lanterns.

Beginning a few years after the bombing, the ceremony of floating peace lanterns has been held in Hiroshima every year on the evening of 6 August, demonstrating people’s desire that nuclear weapons will never be used again. The ceremony starts at sunset with tens of thousands of peace lanterns floating in a long procession throughout the night.

The idea has since spread around the world. In Hastings, local members of CND (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament) started to hold the ceremony in 1983. Ten years ago, when the umbrella peace group, Hastings Against War, formed in opposition to the war in Iraq, new people came along to support the remembrance of the humanitarian effect of war.

Lighting the lanterns

Lighting the lanterns.

There was a new development in April 2011, when Hastings council voted to enlist their Mayor in Mayors for Peace, an organisation started by the Mayor of Hiroshima.  Each year, the Hastings Mayor for Peace opens the ceremony by the boating lake in Alexandra Park. This year, there will also be a short keynote presentation by local author Ann Kramer and singing by Las Pasionarias, a group of women who sing with passion for peace, for the environment and social justice – and the Soka Gakkai International choir, a socially engaged Buddhist group, at the heart of whose philosophy is a concept known as ‘human revolution, whereby the inner change sparked by Buddhist practice leads to courage, compassion and wisdom, fostering fulfilled individuals with a wish to contribute to creating a better world’.

As the sun sets, the candles will be lit and the paper lanterns floated onto the lake. Hastings Against War makes about 60 paper lanterns each year on the night before the ceremony, giving them to people on the night of the event. You are, of course, welcome to make your own. Everyone is welcome to attend the event.

This is only one of many events Hastings Against War is involved in throughout the year.  Their meetings are on the first and third Tuesday each month at 7.30pm in the Friends (Quaker) Meeting House, South Terrace, Hastings TN34 18A.  This is a ground floor, easy-access venue and there is no charge. Contact Rona  on 07895830125 or email HAW at info@hastingsagainstwar.org

Hastings Against War website hereLike HAW on Facebook. 

Poster for HAW event

Poster for HAW event.

Annual memorial evening commemorating Hiroshima and Nagasaki and in remembrance of Fukushima.

Alexandra Park, Hastings – at the lake nearest to the Queens Road entrance.

Wednesday 6 August 2014, 8.15pm.

 

 

Posted 10:21 Wednesday, Jul 30, 2014 In: Campaigns

1 Comment

Please read our comment guidelines before posting on HOT

  1. DAR

    Unpleasant though it was, there is a case for the dropping of the first atom bomb on Hiroshima (though some would argue that the second – on Nagasaki – was just to see if a plutonium bomb was “better” than the uranium bomb on Hiroshima). The case is that it was this act which prompted the Japanese Emperor to order a surrender – the only person the fanatical Japanese military and politicians would obey – which, it is argued, foreshortened the war in the Pacific, saving many more lives than those who perished in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Readers might like to consider this perspective too.

    Comment by DAR — Wednesday, Jul 30, 2014 @ 21:34

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