The 2023 Remembrance of Hiroshima and Nagasaki: The Horror & Hope, presented through music, poetry, and words of recommitment, was held at the Japanese Bell of Peace and Friendship on Tuesday in Des Moines. Its purpose was to recall and grieve the August 6, 1945, bombing of Hiroshima and the August 8, 1945, bombing of Nagasaki, which marked the beginning of the nuclear age, the horrendous cost to the people of Japan, and the continuing costs and threats to people all over the globe.
Bishop Kennetha J. Bigham-Tsai gave a reflection on faith during the gathering.
“The dropping of those bombs was something out of this world, and it did not lead to peace. Surely, what happened at Hiroshima and Nagasaki led to Japan’s surrender and helped to end WWII. Still, it was an atrocity masquerading as peace,” said Bishop Kennetha.
The estimated population in 1945 of Hiroshima was between 280,000 -290,000 people. Tens of thousands died immediately from the blast. Others would take a little longer to die of injuries, radiation sickness, and cancer. The city’s estimates show that the bomb, named Little Boy, killed 237,000 residents.
The presentation included music by Steve and Donna Dressel, a proclamation from the mayor of Hiroshima read by Christina Sheller, and a reflection of hope read by Mary Ann Koch.
“We come to this event honoring the memory of what happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki at a fraught time for our nation and the world. And we come to speak of hope. But is there hope?” said Bishop Kennetha. “I believe there is. But our hope is grounded in our willingness to advocate for a different way—to lay our bodies on the line differently—to call our people, whether Christian or Jewish, Muslim or Hindu, Buddhist or Bahai—to a different way.”
Caleb Stewart read a call to action.
“Movement is building across the US to end the threat that nuclear weapons hold over all of our heads. One of the key forces behind this move is Back from the Brink
. In Des Moines, numerous organizations, including several of today’s co-sponsors, are working together to make Des Moines a part of this movement. We hope you’ll be a part of building this campaign,” said Stewart.
The evening concluded with the ringing of and laying of flowers on the Japanese Bell of Peace and Friendship in remembrance of the victims of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
View an album of images from the evening.
Co-sponsors of the event include American Friends Service Committee Midwest Region, Catholic Peace Ministry, Des Moines Intentional Eucharistic Community, Des Moines Valley Friend Meeting, Downtown Disciples, Faith Committee for Peace, First United Methodist Church Outreach Committee, Iowa Peace Network, Methodist Federation for Social Action—Iowa, Middle East Peace Education Coalition, National Iranian American Council, Plymouth Peace & Justice, Sisters of Humility—Des Moines, STAR*PAC and Women’s International League of Peace and Freedom.