Report of Aug. 9, 2019 Hiroshima and Nagasaki Commemoration White House Witness

Dear Friends, 

Some 40 peacemakers, representing about a dozen religious communities, held a special Hiroshima and Nagasaki Commemoration Prayer Service of Repentance outside the White House from Noon-1:00 p.m. today, the 74th anniversary of the U.S. Nuclear Bombing of Nagasaki.

We were honored to have with us Ms. Michiko Kodama, who, at age 7, experienced the Hiroshima atomic bombing. At 82, she is now the Assistant Secretary General of the Japan Confederation of A-and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations.

Here is an excerpt of the moving and harrowing testimony, Ms. Kodoma offered during the prayer service of repentance: 

“On Aug. 6, 1945 I was seven years old, a second grader in primary school of Hiroshima. I was inside the wooden school building. Suddenly I felt a blinding flash. The next moment, the ceiling of the building collapsed and sharp splinters of windowpanes flew all around. On my way home, carried on the back of my father who came to the school to find me, I witnessed hell on earth. I saw a man with his skin burned heavily, peeling and dangling. A mother with heavy burns carrying a baby, which was burned black and looking like charcoal. Others with their eyeballs pooped out or holding their protruding intestines in their hands frantically ran around, trying to escape. 

The atom bombs dropped on Hiroshima on Aug. 6-9 and Nagasaki on Aug. 9 instantly killed so many people, and those who barely survived those days would eventually die one after another from the delayed effects of radiation. The atomic bombs did not allow the Hibakusha either to die or live as humans.

The Hibakusha who miraculously lived out those days had to suffer from survivors guilt and hellish scenes, sounds, voices and smells burned in their mind, while struggling to make a living and facing prejudice and discrimination from the world.. Hibakusha’s suffering is deep and still persisting. Even after 74 years, “that day” will continue to haunt them. I feel deep regret that I lost my parents, two younger brothers and even my daughter.

So that no one in the world should ever experience that hell on earth, the Hibakusha have traveled around the world to witness the damage and aftereffects of the atomic bombing, appealing, “No More Hibikusha”…and “Abolish nuclear weapons.” 

Our appeals seem to have reached the international community. The “unacceptable suffering and damage” caused by the use of nuclear weapons and the “intolerable damage from the A-bomb” have been accepted widely. This current eventually bore fruit at the U.N Conference which adopted the “Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons” in July 2017… In order to protect the planet without wars for our future generations, let’s work together to abolish nuclear weapons.”

After Ms. Kodama spoke red roses were placed on a dozen photos of the A-Bomb victims and destroyed cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that were displayed on the street in front of the White House. These photos, along with other signs and banners, formed a makeshift shrine to the victims. Then Ms. Kodama was presented with a dozen white roses. This was followed by the gathered community reading an Apology Petition to the people Japan. 

Below is the program for the rest of the prayer service, which includes the Apology Petition.  Also please see the excellent photos that were taken by Scott Wright.

Today is also the anniversaries of the martrydom of St. Edith Stein and Blessed Franz Jagerstatter. We call them into our presence today and give thanks to God for their courageous Gospel witness! 

In the name of God who commands us to love and not to kill, and to beat all our weapons into plowshares; in the name of all nuclear victims and the Hibakusha; in the name of the children and future generations; in the name our sacred earth and all creation, let us redouble our efforts to ensure that the mortal sin of nuclear weapons being used never happens again!

With hope for a disarmed world,

Art

Prayer Service of Repentance for Aug. 9, 2019 White House Witness

  • Opening/Welcome (Art Laffin)

  • Testimony from Ms. Michiko Kodama– At age 7, she experienced the Hiroshima atomic bombing. She is Assistant Secretary General of the Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organization

  • Presentation of Flowers to Ms. Kodama — APOLOGY PETITION (Scott Wright and Jean Stokan)
  • During our Prayer Service of Repentance in front of the White House on August 6, 2016, an Apology Petition was read and presented to Mr. Mimaki, a Hiroshima A-bomb survivor. Over 700 people signed the petition. In September 2016, Mr. Mimaki  delivered the petition to the Mayor of Hiroshima and is now at the Hiroshima Peace Museum. This petition was prepared by Scott Wright and Art Laffin.

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).

  • Prayer Offered by Nipponzan Myohoji Community
  • Reflection on Nuclear Threat and Prayer (Art, Marie Dennis, James Martone, Andrew Wells-Dang, Judy Coode ) Refrain: We Repent for the Nuclear Sin. Abolish Nuclear Weapons Now! 

  • “SHADOW ON THE ROCK” by Daniel Berrigan, SJ (Joe Byrne)

“SHADOW ON THE ROCK”

At Hiroshima there’s a museum 

and outside that museum there’s a rock, 

and on that rock there’s a shadow. 

That shadow is all that remains 

of the human being who stood there on August 6, 1945 

when the nuclear age began. 

In the most real sense of the word, 

that is the choice before us. 

We shall either end war and the nuclear arms race now in this generation,

or we will become Shadows On the Rock.

  • LITANY OF REPENTANCE (Jack McHale, Sr. Megan Rice, Sr. Marge Clark)

For the U.S. development, use, and threatened use of nuclear weapons, Forgive us O God 

For the over 200,000 people who died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki as a direct result of the U.S. nuclear bombings, and for all A-Bomb survivors who have suffered and died from the effects of nuclear radiation, Forgive us O God 

For the unknown numbers of people worldwide who have suffered and died from nuclear testing and exposure to nuclear radiation,  Forgive us O God 

For the U.S. use of highly toxic radioactive depleted uranium weapons in Iraq, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and elsewhere which have claimed untold lives and have caused dramatic increases of cancer, leukemia and birth defects in each of the countries where these weapons have been used, Forgive us O God 

For the millions who needlessly suffered and died–past and present–because of the money and resources squandered on weapons and war instead of on programs to help eradicate poverty and preventable diseases, Forgive us O God 

For desecrating the earth and the environmental damage caused by the mining, testing and use of nuclear technology, Forgive us O God 

For the U.S. militarizing space and the dangerous use of nuclear technology in space, Forgive us O God 

For the U.S. military being the world’s single biggest consumer of fossil fuels, and the single entity most responsible for destabilizing the Earth’s climate, Forgive us O God 

For placing our trust in weapons and mammon rather than in God, Forgive us O God

  • Prayer for the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 (Art)
  • Quote from St. Edith Stein on Anniversary of her martyrdom (Rachel Schmidt)
  • Quote from Franz Jagerstatter on Anniversary of his martyrdom (Rev. Chuck Booker)
  • Closing Song: I COME AND STAND  (Sing Together)

I COME AND STAND

I come and stand at every door, But no one hears my silent prayer, I knock and yet remain unseen, For I am dead, for I am dead.

I’m only seven although I died, In Hiroshima long ago. I’m seven now as I was then, When children die they do not grow.

My hair was scorched by a swirling flame, My eyes grew dim, my eyes grew blind, Death came and turned my bones to dust,

And that was scattered by the wind.

I need no fruit, I need no rice, I need no sweets nor even bread, I ask for nothing for myself, For I am dead, for I am dead.

All that I ask is that for peace, You work today, you work today, So that the children of this world, May live and grow and laugh and play.


 

Special Thank You to all Co-sponsors of this Prayer Service of Repentance: Pax Christi Metro-DC, Pax Christi USA, Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, the Sisters of MercyInstitute Justice Team, Franciscan Action Network, Assisi Community, Jonah House, Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd–U.S. Provinces, Conference of Major Superiors of Men–Justice and Peace, Leadership Conference of Women Religious–Social Mission.

 For more info contact: Art Laffin, Dorothy Day Catholic Worker: artlaffin@hotmail.com

 

 

 

Published in: on August 10, 2019 at 10:59 pm  Leave a Comment  

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