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Milwaukee: Victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki remembered

By Ryan Hamann

Milwaukee remembers the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Milwaukee, WI – On the evening of August 9, over 50 anti-war activists, peace advocates and community members gathered at the Urban Ecology Center in Washington Park on Milwaukee’s north side to remember the victims of the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima (August 6) and Nagasaki (August 9) in 1945. Additionally, victims of recent and prior mass shootings across the U.S. were honored.

The program began with an opportunity for attendees to create their own Japanese lanterns, including drawing or writing messages or images on the wrappings. Many custom designs feature messages such as “No more war!” and “Denuclearization 4 our future!” The lanterns were released into the park’s lagoon at the conclusion of the remembrance.

While the lanterns were being made, people listened to a reading of Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, a story about the death of a young Japanese girl who died in 1955 at the age of 12 due to a specific type of leukemia that became commonly known as ‘atomic bomb disease.’ The story is meant to highlight the innocent victims who are the unavoidable casualties of nuclear weapons.

Several speakers took the stage next, all calling in some form for a shift away from war toward peace. The messages ranged in content from discussing the need for love in times of great despair to reports of indigenous resistance to continued violations of their sovereignty regarding the mining of uranium on their lands.

“Colonizers have been inflicting intergenerational trauma, and collective healing is imperative for ourselves and our future generations,” said Michele Gilbert, an educator in Milwaukee Public Schools and a member of the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association.

The thread through most points the speakers made was clear: nuclear weapons and the various processes that go into producing them are harmful to all manner of people and the planet. The demand was put forward for what amounted to a ‘people’s budget’ in place of the endless funding given to war.

“Continually, the U.S. funds war more than peace,” said Kiva Carman-Frank, a participant in the gathering. “Hiroshima and Nagasaki illustrate this; conflicts around the world illustrate this; occupation in the Middle East illustrates this; domestic conflicts illustrate this.”

“We need to prioritize funding active peace over war,” she concluded.

All those in attendance made a commitment to themselves and one another to continue the fight for a world without nuclear weapons.

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