Each August, even if only for a moment, the world pauses to remember and reflect on the destruction of the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan by the atomic bombs of the United States.
In Oak Ridge, the pause is longer, and the commemoration deeper, for two reasons:
1) The Y-12 Plant in Oak Ridge produced the highly enriched uranium that fueled the first atomic bomb, Little Boy, that destroyed Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, and
2) The Y-12 Nuclear Weapons Complex in Oak Ridge continues to produce thermonuclear cores for US nuclear bombs and warheads—and has begun building a new bomb plant, the Uranium Processing Facility, to make nuclear weapons for decades to come.
WHO SPEAKS FOR THE PAST?
In Japan each August, the commemoration is huge. The Mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki release statements calling for the world to abolish nuclear weapons.
Hibakusha, the dwindling community of first-generation survivors of the bombings, speak of the experience, courageously recalling the days of horror in an effort to persuade the world to heed their call of “Never Again!”
In Oak Ridge, on Monday, August 6, we will gather at 6:00am on the grassy patch of ground across from the main entrance to the Y-12 bomb plant to read the names of victims, along with poetry and first-hand accounts of survivors, and join our voices to the chorus from Japan to say “Never Again!”
The Names and Remembrance ceremony is solemn and non-confrontational. Everyone is welcome, though parents should know that some of the descriptive language is graphic and extreme.
Throughout the morning, from 6:00 until 9:00, we read names, toll our bell, and tie peace cranes on a rope fence. At 8:16am, we interrupt the reading to mark the detonation of the bomb over Hiroshima.
WHO SPEAKS FOR THE FUTURE?
The UPF bomb plant now under construction in Oak Ridge is the tip of the spear of the National Nuclear Security Administration’s $1.7 trillion plan to modernize the US nuclear arsenal from the ground up.
This effort, begun in the Obama Administration and outlined in detail in the Trump Administration’s Nuclear Posture Review, has started a new global nuclear arms race, leading the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists to move the hands of the Doomsday Clock to 2 minutes to midnight, the closest in history.
On Saturday, August 4, we will gather in Oak Ridge to say “NO!” to the UPF bomb plant and “NO!” to the Nuclear Posture Review’s plans for new “usable” nuclear warheads, and “NO!” to a future in which our children and grandchildren live under the nuclear cloud of threatened annihilation.
Activities will begin at Bissell Park in Oak Ridge at 10:30am, where a program of music, speakers and theater will document the current threat and offer hope for the future. We will once again embrace the international symbol of nuclear disarmament, the Yellow X.
From Bissell Park, we will march to the Y-12 Nuclear Weapons Complex where, upon arrival, we will engage in a brief action to say NO to a nuclear future.
On Thursday, August 9, we will gather at 8:00pm at the far west end of Sequoia Hills Park in Knoxville for a Peace Lantern Ceremony commemorating the destruction of Nagasaki, Japan.
This ceremony has grown into a lovely tradition over the years, with Buddhist drumming and chanting, traditional Japanese folk dancing, music and a peace litany, Japanese shadow puppets telling the story of Nagasaki, capped as night falls with the launching of a hundred peace lanterns into the Tennessee River.
The ceremony begins at 8:00pm in the field adjacent to the west end parking area, just off Cherokee Boulevard.
The Peace Lantern ceremony is preceded by a Lantern building party at the Riverside Catholic Worker community in South Knoxville. Look for updates on this web site or check our facebook page for details on the date and time of the lantern building party!
SPEAKING TRUTH WITH POWER
The only power we have to save the world from nuclear annihilation is people power. Our message is grounded in truth, but in order for it to be heard, it has to be amplified by people.
We need EVERYONE to come to Oak Ridge in August. Yes, it’s hot; yes, it’s just about time for schools to resume in Tennessee; yes, it’s a great time to vacation elsewhere. But if everyone chooses to “let someone else go this year,” we will present the picture of a weak peace movement, and the weaponeers will be encouraged.
Don’t come just because we asked. Come because you know it’s up to all of us and each of us to take responsibility for the future and to put ourselves and our voices on the line.