72 years ago today, US forces dropped a nuclear bomb on the people living, working and studying in Hiroshima. The blast itself and the radiation from the bomb killed more than 140,000 people who were in and around Hiroshima city on that day. This morning’s ceremony and activities throughout the day in the Peace Memorial Park are key events in the city, watched by the world.
This morning in Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park, there were political speeches, right-wing nationalists spewing hatred while peaceful anti-nuclear demonstrators chanted “No-War” slogans. Some children sat quietly folding cranes. Many people stood for a long time watching the ceremony in the heat. Students at the ceremony sang and made proclamations for peace. Politicians spoke about the need for peace around the world. Story-tellers and survivors gave testimony around peace park. Many groups made efforts to make dedications of flowers and cranes. Volunteers gave out cool towels and water as well as provided shade or wheelchair access through the crowd.
This is a powerful morning to be in Hiroshima and have the opportunity to deeply contemplate peace and the many surrounding issues.
8:15am – the time of the explosion 72 years ago, many heads bowed in prayer, remembering those who were killed in the blast and later by radiation, caused by the bomb, months or years later.
Mist pours over the crowd in an attempt to cool the hot summer air on this blue sky morning. Volunteers also give out free cold towels and water to people in the crowd.
From the eternal flame, a glimpse of the ceremony set in between the Cenotaph and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial museum.
Shadows of people in Hiroshima this morning seem to have deeper meaning. We are all standing in the blast zone. All that might be left of us in a nuclear blast would be dust, or a shadow.
Volunteer groups find different ways to commemorate August 6th. This group is asking members of the crowd to help build a wreath of flowers that will be dedicated at the Cenotaph in honor of those who lost their lives.
At 8:15 as the chimes of the clock tower ring, no one moves or speaks – even protestors are quiet.
A boy sits at the bank of the river in the center of Peace Park trying to follow directions to make an Origami Peace Crane. His t-shirt motif of thunderbolts from a cloud seem significant today.
I am more aware of kindness this morning, this woman goes out of her way to block the sun for this man.
Too young to really understand, yet able to somehow understand the seriousness, this little girl puts her hands together in prayer.
Media from all over the world document the ceremony from the top of the Peace Memorial Museum.
Seats in front of the ceremony are reserved in advance and filled by 7:30. No one talks or uses their telephones. Few take pictures.
View up the center aisle between the audience seating, the Cenotaph and A-bomb dome are in view.
Politicians sit together and greet one another. Speeches are made about the threat of a nuclear attack from North Korea.
Volunteer group gathers at the river and throws flower petals into the water. These will be replaced by glowing, floating lanterns this evening.
Monks chanted for peace around the A-bomb dome all morning. This monk was meditating at the riverbank, opposite the A-bomb dome, around 8:15 am. People of faith believe there are many spirits around the park. Prayers of peace, candles and floating lanterns are dedicated to those who lost their lives.
This storyteller shows paintings in a frame, mounted on her bicycle. This is the Kamishibai, Japanese picture story style of storytelling. This story is a survivor’s testimony from August 6th and the aftermath.
I feel lucky to have been able to witness Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park on the morning of August 6th during the ceremony and commemorations. It is always an important and powerful experience. I hope we can all take a moment to consider what happened here, and strive to live our lives with more empathy and compassion with an aim to resolve our conflicts through peaceful negotiations.