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Milwaukee commemorates victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings at annual Lanterns for Peace event

By Remi Schueler

Milwaukee, WI – On August 6, the Milwaukee Anti-war Committee (MAC) joined with Peace Action of Wisconsin, Veterans for Peace Milwaukee, and others to host the annual Lanterns for Peace event to commemorate the victims of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The event began with people building lanterns, folding origami paper cranes, and a story-telling from Sadako and the 1000 Paper Cranes. This was followed with a performance by local musicians of blues songs and Celtic music.

Pam Richard, the emcee and a member of Peace Action of Wisconsin, opened with a moment of silence for Daniel Ellsberg, a whistleblower and anti-nuclear activist who recently passed away. This was followed by a poem by another Peace Action member, Julie Enslow, about a child who experienced the bombing of Hiroshima.

“No more Hiroshimas! No more Nagasakis! No more Hibakusha! No more war!” chanted Kevin Martin, a member of the National Peace Action. “The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists ‘Doomsday clock’ is set at 90 seconds to midnight, the closest we’ve come to nuclear war since I was born, and I was born right after the Cuban Missile Crisis, in November of ‘62. My mother didn’t think that she would ever get to see me being born.”

He continued, “With the war in Ukraine, the risk of escalation up to and including the possibility of nuclear war is unacceptably dire.”

Sara Onitsuka, a member of the Milwaukee Anti-War Committee, spoke on their visit to the Peace Memorial Park and the Atomic Bomb Museum in Hiroshima as a child and how their family both experienced the Japanese internment during World War II and the air raids in Japan.

“I want to also mention something that I don’t remember seeing in the museum. During that time, millions of Koreans were conscripted into forced labor in Japan. The Korean Atomic Bomb Victims’ Association estimates that 100,000 Koreans were injured or killed by the bombs, out of 700,000 people total. They were neglected medically, including being turned away from Japanese hospitals immediately after the bombings and denied medical benefits years later.”

Onitsuka also discussed the narrative surrounding the bombings as a “necessary evil” in the U.S. education system, and how they had learned the true nature of U.S. imperialism outside of U.S. classrooms.

“There are 85 U.S. military bases in Japan, with three-fourths of them located in Okinawa, a colony of Japan whose people strongly oppose U.S. military presence. These bases, and the other 750 overseas U.S. military bases, are not for defense. They are there to threaten, intimidate, and surveil China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and Russia,” said Onitsuka.

The event concluded with a brief story from a member of Milwaukee Veterans for Peace about the Golden Rule, a peace sailboat that helped bring about the end to atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons by being sent out to the Marshall Islands during nuclear testing. It undergoes a “grand loop” every year, with a stop in Milwaukee on Labor Day weekend.

Due to weather issues, the lantern release at Lincoln Park was delayed to Wednesday, August 9.

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