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On Embracing Our Common Humanity in a Virtual Rally

Posted on Friday, August 7, 2020

Posted by Raiza Marciscano-Bettis

My Experience on August, 06, 2020 on the 75th Anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki Bombing

On August 6, 2020, I joined thousands of viewers from around our community and across the country to participate a virtual rally called, “From Hiroshima to a Healthy Tomorrow: Embracing Our Common Humanity”.

This rally is held annually at the gates of Livermore Lab where more than 88% of its budget will be spent on nuclear weapons. Livermore is one of the two locations that design every nuclear bomb and warhead in the U.S. stockpile. However, because of the Covid-19 challenge that we are facing, this event was held virtually.

This occasion was the 75th anniversary of the dropping of the US atomic bomb directly above the Japanese city of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 at 8:16 am on a Monday. In a city of more than 300,000 inhabitants, one-third perished instantly. Many more died of radiation sickness in the aftermath. Three days later, August 9, 1945, another atomic bomb was dropped on the people in Nagasaki.

Those who survived, called Hibakusha, plead that there be an end to the nuclear threat and that no people, ever again, suffer what they have endured. The survivors often have scars and recurring sickness; yet some are #StillHere to carry forward their appeal for the elimination of nuclear weapons.

Our rally was honored to have Nobuaki Hanaoka, a retired Methodist minister from the Bay Area, speak to us. Nobu, as he is called, was an 8-month old baby in Nagasaki when the bomb fell. His words were filled with sadness as he told the tragic story of his family. His only memories of his mother and sister were of them pale and bedridden. When he was still a young boy, they died of illness linked to radiation poisoning. I will never forget his experience, and I am grateful it is now on tape for all to see and hear.

The rally also featured nuclear historian Gar Alperovitz. He quoted military leaders from the time of the bombings and said, “Virtually every top military and diplomatic person within the upper rank of the American government knew that the bombing was unnecessary to end the war without an invasion and without a massive loss of life.” He pointed to evidence that a number of decision makers thought the U.S. use of atomic bombs in Japan would make the Soviets more “manageable” after the war, which, he noted, did not happen. Instead, they too acquired the bomb.

On this 75th anniversary, speakers like former Pentagon nuclear war planner, and famed “Pentagon Papers” whistleblower, Daniel Ellsberg reflected on the meaning of the bomb. He began his examination with Mahatma Gandhi’s question in 1945 of what the use of atomic bombs might do to the soul of the destroying nation.

Marylia Kelley, Executive Director at Tri-Valley CAREs, addressed the Livermore Lab’s role in promoting a new nuclear arm race. Ms. Kelley has worked for 37 years conducting research, writing and facilitating methods for the public to participate in the nuclear policy decisions. She shared with us a budget chart for the Livermore Lab in which 88.7% of funding for the coming year is for nuclear weapons activities and less than 2% is for civilian science, 1.7% to be exact. In this time of Covid-19, she noted that it is sad to say that this is the government’s priority – and this is what we must change.

I would like to thank all the people who participated in one way or another in this event, as well as to send gratitude to all the people who work for justice and peace from our community and from all over the country and the world.

I strongly agree with something said by the rally emcees – that we all have a big responsibility. For it is people who really make the difference and who make real change happen.

As the rally unfolded, I felt the history of people who have gathered at Livermore Lab year after year to remember the horror of the atomic bomb and to recommit to working for peace and justice. On this 75th anniversary, I too commit my energy to the peace and security of a world free of nuclear weapons and the pollution they cause. I invite you to join me.