Left Justified: Visiting Hiroshima

Drop two atom bombs on a country, and they will surrender. That’s what happened to Japan, and it ended World War II—the war that preceded the Cold War, which was before the “War on Terror.” When will we have no more war?

I visited Hiroshima and Nagasaki (the two cities nuked) in 1990, when my brother worked for Sundstrand. He was helping Japan develop a supersonic jet fighter (Sundstrand does a lot of development of weapons). Both cities looked beautiful, but both had wonderful little peace parks in the center that commemorated the deaths, and both prayed for no more nuclear bombings.

It is a horrible way to die.

Peace groups all over the world use Aug. 6-9 as days to reflect on war, pray for peace and commemorate the civilians slaughtered by the beginning of the Atomic Age. Rockford is no different.

On the 61st anniversary commemoration of the atomic bombing, which is this Sunday, Aug. 6, Rockford Peace & Justice Action Committee will host a 12:30 p.m. program at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Rockford, 4848 Turner St. (two blocks north and east of Alpine and State streets).

Leah Timberlake will share pictures and stories of her recent visit. She just returned from a very moving trip. There will also be readings, music, poems and prayers for peace.

For more information, call me at 964-7111. The program is sponsored by Rockford Peace & Justice Action Committee, with help from Rockford Urban Ministries, Peacemakers of Westminster Presbyterian, the Social Responsibilities Committee of the UU Church, and friends and supporters of peace.

During the event, we will share a message about the dangers of President George W. Bush’s Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) proposal. GNEP centers on “reprocessing”—the extraction of plutonium and uranium from irradiated fuel produced by commercial nuclear reactors.

By extracting weapons-usable plutonium from highly radioactive irradiated fuel, reprocessing increases the threat of nuclear weapons proliferation and makes it easier for terrorists to obtain this dangerous material. And we don’t want that.

As a result of global commercial reprocessing, 250 metric tons of plutonium has been separated and remains vulnerable to theft. Under GNEP, the U.S. government would promote reprocessing in certain other countries as well, creating a global “plutonium economy.” The nuclear materials, expertise, and equipment could leak, as they have in the past, to secret weapons programs in other countries or within a reprocessing country’s program to make nuclear weapons.

For someone who doesn’t want North Korea or Iran to have atom bombs, why support this? I don’t know why Mr. Bush wants other countries to take their nuclear waste and turn it into bomb material, though he seems to be often supportive of profits over people. Can you make profits off nuclear waste?

Whatever you do this weekend, say a prayer for peace.

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

From the Aug. 2-8, 2006, issue

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