This morning, the 71st anniversary of the U.S. nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and the feast of the Transfiguration, about 30 peacemakers held a prayer service in the sweltering heat outside the White House to repent for the U.S. nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and to call for the abolition of nuclear weapons. (See below the prayer service program). This peace witness was organized by the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker, Pax Christi Metro-DC, Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach, Isaiah Project and the Sisters of Mercy— Institute Justice Team.
The prayer witness, which was held from 8:00-9:00 AM, began with an opening reflection which I offered. This was followed by a period of silence to remember the nuclear victims at 8:16 AM, the exact time in Japan that the bomb was dropped. Then Mr. Toshiyuki Mimaki, (pictured above speaking in front of the White house) Vice President of Hiroshima Prefectural Hibakusha Organization and a former Executive Board member of Nihon Hidankyo (The Japan Confederation of A & H Bomb Sufferers Organizations) was introduced by Kio Kanda, from the Hiroshima/Nagasaki Peace Committee of the National Capital Area, the group responsible for bringing Mr. Mimaki to the D.C. area. Speaking through an excellent translator, Mr. Mimaki, shared that he was born in Tokyo, experienced the Great Tokyo Air Raid and was then exposed to the atomic bombing at the age of three in his father’s hometown of Hiroshima, where he had moved. On August 8, 1945, he walked around the whole neighborhood of Hiroshima Station with his mother and younger brother in search of his father, who worked for the Japan National Railway. He also conveyed the horrific experience his family endured as a result of the bombing. In his concluding remarks, Mr. Mimaki stated that he appreciated President Obama’s recent historic visit to Hiroshima. He also made a plea to Mr. Obama to visit the Peace Museum in Hiroshima and do the right thing, together with other nuclear powers: abolish all nuclear weapons!
Following Mr. Mimkai’s powerful remarks, Bob Cooke shared about the groups who were involved in sponsoring the “Apology Petition,” and how grateful we are to Paul Magno and Nonviolence International for posting the petition on their web site. (People can still sign the petition at http://action.nonviolenceinternational.net/apology_petition. To date 555 people have signed on to the petition. Scott Wright and Jean Stokan then proceeded to lead a moving ritual of repentance atoning for the nuclear sin and distributed red and white roses to all gathered. The red roses symbolized the sacredness of all life as well as the grief and suffering caused by war and the Bomb. The white roses symbolized hope and our commitment to work for a nonviolent world, free of weapons, war and violence. Following a community reading of the Apology Petition, each person presented their rose to Mr. Mimaki, who graciously received them. The Apology Petition was then personally presented to Mr. Mimaki, who expressed his profound appreciation.
After the presentation of the Apology Petition, Paul Magno and Sr. Megan Rice led a Litany of Repentance (see below). Following the Litany, Marie Dennis read a passage for the Gospel of Luke, marking the feast of the Transfiguration, as well as a short prayer. Liz McAlister then read a poem titled “Shadow on the Rock,” (see below) that was written by her brother-in-law, Daniel Berrigan, S.J. who died on April 30th. (Daniel Berrigan–Presente!) The witness concluded with everyone singing “I Come and Stand” (see below) and “Vine and Fig Tree.”
On Tuesday, August 9, from 7:00 – 8:00 AM, we will hold a nonviolent witness at the Pentagon to commemorate the 71st anniversary of the U.S. nuclear bombing of Nagasaki. For those in the greater D.C. area we cordially invite you to join us. For more info email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hiroshima and Nagasaki: An Apology
Envision the World Without Nuclear Weapons
August 6 and 9, 2016–71st Anniversary of the U.S. Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
The anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is a time of remembering the horror, repenting the sin and reclaiming a future without nuclear weapons. It is a time to recommit ourselves to the work of disarming and dismantling the machinery of mass destruction. Nuclear weapons are sinful and idolatrous. Their research, production, possession, deployment and use are a crime against God and humanity. We decry the fact that the U.S. government plans to commit a trillion dollars to modernize its existing nuclear arsenal over the next thirty years.
On this August 6 and 9, we gather with people of faith and conscience across the globe to mark the anniversary with a daily presence of prayer and action. As citizens of the United States, we invite people to publicly ask God for forgiveness for the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which caused the immediate death of more than 200,000 people, and hundreds of thousands more who died in the aftermath as a result of radiation poisoning. Pope Paul VI, in his 1976 World Day of Peace Message, described the bombings as “a butchery of untold magnitude.”
We apologize to the people of Japan – and to the survivors of the bombing, the hibakusha – for our country’s bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and we ask forgiveness for these atrocities. We repent for the continued proliferation of nuclear weapons at the expense of unmet human needs. Further, we offer repentance for threatening to use nuclear weapons and keeping many of them on a first-strike hair-trigger alert. We firmly resolve, with God’s grace and mercy, to reject the false idols of nuclear weapons, and to embrace the life-affirming work of abolishing these weapons of terror.
Now is the time to pursue non-violent alternatives to war and proclaim a Jubilee Year of Mercy, as both the Scriptures and Pope Francis suggest: to restore justice for the poor; to lay the foundations for peace; and to seek a nuclear-free future for our children. In that spirit, we renew our commitment to the biblical vision of peace, a world without weapons or war, expressed so well by the prophet Isaiah: On that day, “God will rule over all nations and settle disputes for all peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not raise sword against nation; nor will they train for war anymore” (Is 2:4).
(This petition was prepared by Scott Wright and Art Laffin. Groups sponsoring the petition include: Dorothy Day Catholic Worker, Pax Christi Metro-DC, Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach, Isaiah Project, the Sisters of Mercy—Institute Justice Team, Little Friends for Peace, Jonah House and the Hiroshima Nagasaki Peace Committee of the National Capital Area. This petition was presented to Mr. Toshiyuki Mimaki, Hiroshima Hibakusha (A-bomb Survivor), at the August 6th White House prayer witness. If you would sll like to sign the petition please go to http://action.nonviolenceinternational.net/apology_petition.