Posts Tagged ‘Lanterns for Peace’

Seventy-two years ago this Sunday, a United States Air Force bomber dropped an atomic bomb, code-named “Little Boy,” on Hiroshima; an estimated 130,000 people perished. Three days later, on August 9, 1945, 70,000 citizens of Nagasaki were vaporized when the atomic bomb code-named “Fat Man” was unleashed. Over the years that followed, many thousands more were disabled or killed by a bewildering array of radiation burns, cancers and birth defects. The psychological impact on the survivors, their families and their communities was profound.

The dying days of World War Two seem impossibly far off. For those born after the postwar baby boom, we might as well be recalling the Peloponnesian War. However, for Boomers whose mental faculties are more or less intact, “The Bomb” is not ancient history. Those of us who grew up in the fifties and sixties have vivid memories of the Cold War and the arms race: the duck and cover drills at school, the Cuban Missile Crisis, strontium 90 raining down and contaminating our food, and so on. We had a healthy, rational fear of nuclear weapons and the actual experience of nuclear weapons being tested and used within living memory propelled a large and lively anti-nuke movement.

Today’s anti-nuclear movement is a shadow of its former self and that is perhaps one of the reasons why members of NATO (excluding Holland) felt they could refuse to participate in the development of the nuclear weapons ban treaty that was passed by the United Nations General Assembly on July 7, 2017. Perhaps that is why the United States feels confident that it can threaten to strike North Korea, even though this would likely precipitate a nuclear conflict.

We cannot afford to be complacent. Nine countries that we know of (United States, Russia, United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel) have nuclear arsenals and the slightest miscalculation by any of them could plunge the world into the darkness of a nuclear winter. 

What to do? We need to rebuild the movement. We need to start by talking to our families and our neighbours. We must educate, inform and remind. This will not be easy, but we need to cut through the clutter of contemporary life. We need to sweep away an array of political distractions and help focus attention on a truly existential threat. (It’s not that many or these issues aren’t important, it’s just that they will be totally irrelevant to the millions of dead that will result from a nuclear war.)

As I have done for many years, I will be participating in the Winnipeg’s Lanterns for Peace Ceremony. I hope you will join me.

 

 

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Every August 6, Winnipeggers commemorate the August 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with a Lanterns for Peace Ceremony. People come together to make and float their lanterns in a pond in the middle of the city to express their desire for a peaceful world and to show solidarity with countless others around the world who are doing something similar on that day.

The Cast

  • Glenn Morison – Project Peacemakers
  • Ismaila Alfa – CBC Radio
  • Doug Martindale – MLA, Burrows Constituency
  • Steve Plenert – Mennonite Central Committee
  • Jessica Nagamori – Manitoba Japanese Canadian Citizens’ Association
  • Terumi Kuwada – Manitoba Japanese Canadian Citizens’ Association
  • Haley Rempel – Flautist

Lanterns for Peace Sponsors

The Crew

On Monday, August 6, 1945, at 8:15 a.m., the nuclear bomb “Little Boy” was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan by an American B-29 bomber, the Enola Gay. An estimated 130,000 people were killed.

On August 9, 1945, Nagasaki was the target of America’s second atomic bomb attack. At 11:02 a.m., the north of the city was destroyed and an estimated 70,000 people were killed by the bomb nicknamed “Fat Man.”

Over the years and decades that followed, thousands more died from a variety of radiation induced diseases. Even now, after more than six decades, many aftereffects persist, including leukemia, A-bomb cataracts, and cancers of thyroid, breast, lungs, salivary glands, birth defects, and disfiguring radiation burn scars.

The psychological damage arising from widespread chronic illness and the destruction of families and communities cannot be measured.

For many years, Winnipeggers have commemorated these tragedies and reaffirmed our commitment to peace and freedom from nuclear terror. We symbolize our commitment with a Lantern Ceremony.

Aug. 6, 2010: Winnipeggers gather at Memorial Park to launch their Lanterns for Peace. Photo: Paul S. Graham

Aug. 6, 2010: Lanterns reflect the individual aspirations of the artist. Photo: Paul S. Graham

August 6, 2010: Winnipeg Lanterns for Peace. Photo: Paul S. Graham

The Lantern Ceremony is part of an ancient Buddhist Ceremony (O-Bon), that commemorates the lives of deceased loved ones. For many years around the world, this ceremony has been used on Hiroshima Peace Day to honour and embrace the memory of those who died because of the attacks.

During these ceremonies, participants are invited to design a lantern that represents their thoughts and feelings regarding personal losses, global concerns of peace, nuclear disarmament and any other issue relevant to keeping our planet safe.

In addition to lanterns, we make origami peace cranes to commemorate the story of “Sadako and a Thousand Paper Cranes.”

Sadako Sasaki, a 10-year old girl, became sick with leukemia from the effects of the atomic bomb in post war Japan. She believed in an ancient tale that if you made 1000 paper cranes, you would be granted a wish. She wished for good health.

She died before she completed making the cranes and her classmates completed the task for her. Each year, thousands of paper cranes from all over the world adorn the statue of Sadako in the Hiroshima Peace Park in Hiroshima, Japan.

As important as it is to commemorate the horrible tragedies of August 6 and 9, 1945, more is required of us to prevent a recurrence of this disaster. Nine countries are known to possess nuclear weapons (United States, Russia, United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel). Together, they possess an estimated 8,000 active nuclear warheads and more than 22,000 in storage. The explosion (accidental or deliberate) of only one of these weapons would cause unthinkable suffering and destruction.

The nuclear threat is too serious to be ignored. We cannot rest until each of these nuclear weapons has been dismantled.

How you choose to work for a nuclear free world is up to you. There are numerous options. Here a few of the many Internet resources available to help you get involved.

If you live in or close to Winnipeg, you should consider contacting any of the sponsors of Winnipeg Lanterns for Peace:

And, of course, you shouldn’t miss out on Winnipeg Lanterns for Peace 2011.

Finally, the Canadian Peace Alliance is a good source of information on peace groups across Canada. The important thing is to become informed and involved.

On Aug. 6, the 1945 nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki will be marked with a Lantern Ceremony at Memorial Park in Winnipeg. The keynote address will be given by MP Bill Siksay (Burnaby-Douglas) on a private members bill (C-447) now before Parliament for the establishment of a Department of Peace.

Date: Friday, August 6, 2010
Place: Memorial Park (by the fountain, York Avenue and Memorial Boulevard)
Time: Lantern making begins at 7:30 p.m.; speakers begin at 8:30 p.m.; lanterns will be launched at 9:15 p.m.

The annual commemoration of the Hiroshima/Nagasaki bombings is part of a world wide observance held to promote nuclear disarmament and world peace. In Winnipeg, the event is sponsored by the Manitoba Japanese Canadian Citizens Association, Peace Alliance Winnipeg, and Project Peacemakers.

In August, 1945, after 6 months of firebombing attacks on 67 Japanese cities, US President Harry Truman ordered the atomic bombing of Hiroshima (August 6) and Nagasaki (August 9). The death toll was enormous – 140,000 in Hiroshima and 80,000 in Nagasaki by the end of 1945. Many more thousands died over the months and years to come from injuries and illnesses caused by radiation poisoning.

For many years, Winnipeggers have commemorated these tragedies and reaffirmed our commitment to peace and freedom from nuclear terror. We symbolize our commitment with a Lantern Ceremony.

The Lantern Ceremony is part of an ancient Buddhist Ceremony (O-Bon), that commemorates the lives of deceased loved ones. For many years around the world, this ceremony has been used on Hiroshima Peace Day to remember and embrace the memory of people who died because of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. During these ceremonies, participants are invited to design a lantern that represents their thoughts and feelings regarding personal losses, global concerns of peace, nuclear disarmament and any other issues relevant to keeping our planet safe.

Video of last year’s Lantern Ceremony in Winnipeg

Sadako and a Thousand Paper Cranes

In addition to lanterns we will be making origami peace cranes to commemorate the story of “Sadako and a Thousand Paper Cranes.”

Sadako Sasaki, a young girl of 10 years old, became sick with leukemia from the effects of the atomic bomb in post war Japan. She believed in an ancient tale that if you made 1000 paper cranes, you would be granted a wish. She wished for good health.

She died before she completed making the cranes and her classmates completed the task for her.

Each year, thousands of paper cranes from all over the world adorn the statue of Sadako in the Hiroshima Peace Park in Hiroshima, Japan.

Bill C-447 – An Act to establish the Department of Peace

Bill Siksay, MP (Burnaby-Douglas) is the mover of Bill C-447 – An Act to Establish a Department of Peace. Seconded by Jim Karygiannis, MP (Scarborough-Agincourt ), the bill passed First Reading in the House of Commons, Sept. 30, 2009. Mr. Siksay will speak about this bill at the Lantern Ceremony.

You can read the full Bill in English and French, here: Bill C-447

According to the Campaign to Establish a Canadian Department of Peace, the mandate envisioned for the Minister of Peace is to “reinvigorate Canada’s role as a peacekeeper and peacebuilder” as follows:

1. Develop early detection and rapid response processes to deal with emerging conflicts and establish systemic responses to post-conflict demobilization, reconciliation and reconstruction

2. Lead internationally to abolish nuclear, biological, chemical weapons, to reduce conventional weapon arsenals and to ban the weaponization of space

3. Implement the UN Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace (1999) to safeguard human rights and enhance the security of persons and their communities

4. Implement UN Resolution 1325 on the key role played by women in the wide spectrum of peacebuilding work

5. Establish a Civilian Peace Service that, with other training organizations, will recruit, train and accredit peace professionals and volunteers to work at home and abroad, as an alternative to armed intervention.

6. Address issues of violence in Canada by promoting nonviolent approaches that encourage community involvement and responsibility such as Restorative Justice, Nonviolent Communication (NVC) and Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR)

7. Support the development of peace education at all levels including post-secondary peace and conflict studies

8. Promote the transition from a war-based to a peace-based economy.