Left Justified: Happy Hiroshima Day!

Well, maybe it won’t be a happy day, but Aug. 6th, 1945, is one that we should commemorate as the first time a nuclear weapon was used in anger. Fortunately, it ended a war. Unfortunately, the atomic bomb was used by our country on a mainly civilian population that was a different skin color. It doesn’t sit too well in the history books.

I always commemorate Hiroshima day, as well as the corresponding Nagasaki Day three days later. Aug. 9, 1945, was the last time that a nuclear bomb was used in anger. Hopefully, there will never be another one.

I will gather with friends and peace activists this coming Sunday, Aug. 10, 2003, along the Sinnissippi bike path just south of the Symbol (south of Auburn Street). We’ll sing some peace songs and read some poems and say a few prayers. If we are lucky, we’ll hear from a speaker who will talk about the history of nuclear weapons and give us some hope that we’ll stop building them and prevent others as well.

The United States is the largest nuclear weapons power, but for some reason our government doesn’t seem to want to prevent others from getting their hands on the secret. Well, the leaders say they do. But the way our president treated the United Nations during this last war, I doubt it’s strong enough to do much of anything. Right now, the best way should be with international treaties and through the UN.

Rockford Peace & Justice Action Committee and Rockford Urban Ministries, whom I work for, both sponsor this Sunday, August 10 peace program. The pontificating will start around 7 p.m., and if the mosquitoes aren’t biting too bad, we’ll go until 8 or 9 and light some candles. You are welcome to join us. This is an annual event, and some years we get as many as 75 or 100 people. If it rains, we are invited to use the Unitarian Universalist Church’s fellowship hall at 4848 Turner St. (thanks, friends!).

Last year we had a speaker from the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists (those are the folks who use a clock to show how close we are to midnight—or doomsday!). One year we had a scientist who worked on the bomb. Both told us how much easier it’s getting to acquire materials for constructing nuclear weapons. It still takes a large governmental effort. If a country is involved in nuclear power, it seems to be easier to acquire nuclear weapons. The purveyors of nuclear power don’t want us to know that. Unfortunately, the dream of turning weapons to peaceful uses doesn’t seem to work with atomic bombs. You can turn swords into plowshares, and maybe missiles into golf carts, but it’s hard to turn plutonium into anything life supporting.

But we still have hope. I think many people have hope for peace, and can envision it, if not in our lifetimes, then in our children’s. That’s what we will celebrate this Sunday, Aug. 10: the hope for peace. You are welcome!

Stanley Campbell is executive director of Rockford Urban Ministries and spokesman for Rockford Peace & Justice.

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