Press Release: From Hiroshima-Nagasaki Vigil Committee     JULY 20, 2017
Stepping Back from Nuclear War:
The World's Call to Peace
Hiroshima-Nagasaki Observance August 6-9

As global nuclear tensions increase, it once more becomes urgent that we remember the terrible destructive capacity of nuclear weapons. Area congregations, peace and justice groups, this year under the leadership of South Mountain Friends Meeting (Quakers), will again do that by observing the anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and offering people a chance to support a new pathway to the abolition of nuclear weapons. The public is invited to participate.

That new pathway is the treaty completely banning the possession and use of these weapons that has just been adopted by the UN General Assembly and will be open for signatures by the world’s nations starting September 20.

The nine countries that possess nuclear weapons—some with destructive power many times greater than those used against Japan—have boycotted the treaty process. However, once the majority of other nations have signed it, its existence will create a new, continuing, and ever-building pressure on the nuclear haves in the same way the treaties banning biological and chemical weapons have done.

The local observance of Hiroshima and Nagasaki began in 1975 with a small vigil in front of the Federal Building in Medford organized by the Quakers. It has continued annually ever since. The intention of the observance has never been to raise the vexed question of whether nuclear weapons should have been used against Japan, but rather to remember the destruction so that nuclear weapons will never again be used. The focus is to educate the public and urge citizens to engage in the quest for nuclear abolition.

The traditional opening ceremony of the observance will start at 8 a.m. on August 6 at the entrance to Lithia Park in Ashland, and the closing ceremony will be held in the Japanese Garden in Lithia Park on Wednesday, August 9 at 7 p.m. There will also be activities on the Ashland Plaza from 3 to 7 p.m. on Monday, August 7, and in the Medford Library from 3 to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, August 8. Details are provided in the schedule of events below.

In addition to the Quaker Meeting, sponsors of the 2017 observance include Citizens for Peace & Justice–Medford, Veterans for Peace–Rogue Valley Chapter 156, Medford Congregational United Church of Christ (UCC) Justice & Peace Team, Unity in Ashland, Japanese Association of Southern Oregon, One Sunny Day Initiatives, Occupy Medford, Peace House, Ashland First Congregational United Church of Christ (UCC), Red Earth Descendants, Rogue Valley Peace Choir, Rogue Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Social Justice & Action Committee, United Nations Alliance at SOU, United Nations Association of Southern Oregon, Healthcare for All–Rogue Valley, Southern Oregon Jobs with Justice, Southern Oregon Pachamama Alliance Community, and Ashland Culture of Peace Commission.

Schedule of Events & Highlights

Sunday, August 6 at 8 a.m. Opening Ceremony. At entrance to Lithia Park, across from Ashland plaza. Reverend Norma Nakai Burton of Unity in Ashland will officiate. The Ashland Mayor for Peace's Proclamation will be read, the Memorial Flame lit, and a gong will sound at 8:15 to mark the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Local survivor of that bombing, Hideko Tamura Snider, will share reflections. Visiting musician Masako Cross will sing, and bring the healing sounds of the You-Kin harp. All are invited to participate in the water ceremony.

Monday, August 7 from 3 to 7 p.m. Vigil in Ashland. Downtown Ashland Plaza. Peace crane folding with Japanese Assn. of Southern Oregon members and friends, information, petitions and opportunities to dialogue about the new nuclear ban treaty. Between 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. will be a focus on Native American perspectives, with Dan Wahpepah of Red Earth Descendants.

Tuesday, August 8 from 3 to 9 p.m. Vigil in Medford. Medford Library, Large Community Room.  Displays, information, petitions, dialogue about nuclear-related issues.
            – 3 p.m. Kate Gould, Middle East Program Director, Friends Committee on National Legis-lation will discuss "The Success of the Iran Nuclear Deal & Preventing War with Iran”, with emphasis on what citizen advocates can do to prevent a new war in the Middle East.

            – 4 p.m. “The Nuclear Requiem” film (2016) 55 min. Presents in-depth reflection on the danger nuclear weapons pose, an assessment of current obstacles to disarmament, and frank discussion of how to overcome the roadblocks to reduce the nuclear threat.

            – 5 p.m. Short video talks by William J. Perry, former U.S. Secretary of Defense, on North Korea and Dr. Ira Helfand, Co-President of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, on medical consequences of nuclear war.

            – 6 p.m. Finger foods & conversations; time to peruse materials.

            – 7 p.m. “Banning Nukes – The First Step to Abolition?" talk by SOU Professor of Inter-national Studies Dr. Michael Niemann. Focus on the recent nuclear weapons ban treaty.

            – 8 p.m. Golden Rule Sails Again” slide presentation on the renovated sailing vessel that challenged U.S. nuclear testing in the Pacific, with Allen Hallmark, Veterans for Peace.

Wednesday, August 9 at 7 p.m. Closing Ceremony, in the upper Japanese Garden in Lithia Park in Ashland. The Reverend Laura Lee Kent of Medford Congregational United Church of Christ will officiate, along with pleasing harmonies of the Japanese Association of Southern Oregon Singers and Richard Williams on shakuhachi flute to uplift our spirits. Participants may float sunflowers, an international symbol of nuclear abolition, to hold up the vision of a nuclear weapons-free future.

All events free and open to the public.

For further information, contact Herbert Rothschild,
541-531-2848 or herbertrothschild@hotmail.com