by Art Laffin, Teacher of Peace

“Let all the souls here rest in peace, for we shall not repeat the evil.” – Epitaph at bottom of the Hiroshima Peace Park Memorial Cenotaph and Peace Flame in remembrance of all the victims of the atomic bombings.

Seventy-three years ago, on August 6 and 9, the U.S. government did the “unspeakable: and dropped two atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, thus beginning the Nuclear Age. As a result of these bombings, it is estimated that over 135,000 people died in Hiroshima and more than 64,000 in Nagasaki. In the subsequent months and years, many more have died from the effects of burns, radiation sickness and other injuries.

The U.S. has never repented for the use of these weapons of indiscriminate mass murder. Moreover, it has continued to build even deadlier weapons which endanger all of creation. Today the U.S. possesses nearly 6,500 nuclear weapons, many of which are on hair-trigger alert, and proposes to spend an estimated $1 trillion over the next 30 years to modernize it’s existing nuclear arsenal. This deadly venture not only endangers the world but represents a direct theft from the poor of our nation and world.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has turned its “Doomsday Clock” to 2 minutes before midnight to signify the perilous situation facing the world due to the dangers of nuclear war and the climate crisis. (https://thebulletin.org/2018-doomsday-clock-statement)  This peril has been exacerbated by an unstable U.S. president  who has threatened to attack North Korea and Iran. As a leading nuclear superpower, the U.S. practices a double standard by calling on other nations to disarm while, at the same time, it refuses to disarm and instead is rapidly expanding its own arsenal.

On July 7, 2017, at the conclusion of a special “UN Conference To Negotiate a Legally Binding Instrument to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons,” 122 countries voted in favor of historic treaty to legally prohibit nuclear weapons. To date 59 countries have signed the treaty and 11 have ratified it. The “Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons,” bans nuclear weapons and establishes a framework for the elimination of nuclear weapons programs – including warheads, materials, delivery systems and facilities. All of the countries that bear nuclear arms and many others that either come under their protection or host weapons on their soil boycotted the negotiations. We call on the U.S., the only country to have ever used nuclear weapons, to endorse this treaty and to lead the way to total worldwide nuclear disarmament. (See: http://www.icanw.org/the-treaty)

Pope Francis declared: “If we also take into account the risk of an accidental detonation as a result of error of any kind, the threat of their use, as well as their very possession, is to be firmly condemned…International relations cannot be held captive to military force, mutual intimidation, and the parading of stockpiles of arms. Weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons, create nothing but a false sense of security. They cannot constitute the basis for peaceful coexistence between members of the human family…The total elimination of nuclear weapons is “both a challenge and a moral and humanitarian imperative” of our time.

The A-Bomb Survivors (Hibakusha) plead to the world: “Humankind can’t coexist with nuclear weapons.”

When and Where:

Monday, August 6 @ Pentagon from 7-8 AM  (August 6th is the anniversary of the U.S. nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and the Feast of the Transfiguration). There will be a Prayer Service of Repentance and Nonviolent Witness at the Pentagon.

For those driving, please meet on corner of Army-Navy Drive and Fern St. @ 6:40 a.m.

If you are coming by metro, please get off at Pentagon stop–Yellow Line). Take south exit coming out of metro. When you reach the top of escalator go left and then right on the sidewalk going away from building toward South Parking lot. Vigil site is down on the left side behind a bicycle fence.

Thursday, August 9 @ White House from Noon – 1:00 PM: There will be a Prayer Service of Repentance outside the White House. Meet on north side of White House on Pennsylvania Ave.–across from Lafayette Park.

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