Anti-nuclear activists rally on anniversary of atomic blast
LOS ALAMOS, N.M. – At the birthplace of the atomic bombs that devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki 60 years ago, survivors of those deadly blasts joined with hundreds of people Saturday in support of a global ban on nuclear weapons.”No more Hiroshimas. No more Nagasakis,” bombing survivor Koji Ueda of Tokyo wrote in a statement distributed at the rally. “We send this message to our friends all over the world, along with a fresh determination of the ‘hibakusha’ (atomic bomb survivors) to continue to tell about Hiroshima and Nagasaki, aiming at a planet set free of wars of nuclear weapons.”Peace activists in Las Vegas, near the Nevada Test Site, discussed ways to eliminate nuclear weapons. In Oak Ridge, Tenn., 15 protesters in a group of more than 1,000 were arrested for blocking a road outside the heavily guarded weapons factory that helped fuel the bomb during World War II.The city of Hiroshima, meanwhile, marked the anniversary with prayers and water for the dead.At 8:15 a.m., the instant of the blast, Hiroshima’s trolleys stopped and more than 55,000 people at Peace Memorial Park observed a moment of silence that was broken only by the ringing of a bronze bell.Ueda, who was 3 when the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, was joined at Los Alamos by Masako Hashida, who was 15 and working in a factory a mile from where the second bomb fell three days later on Nagasaki.In an interview with The Associated Press, Hashida recalled hearing a loud metallic noise and then seeing waves of red, blue, purple and yellow light. She said she lost consciousness and awoke outside the twisted metal ruins of the factory, which had made torpedoes used in the attack on Pearl Harbor.She saw a person trying to stand, with burns and swelling so severe it was impossible to tell if it was a man or a woman.In the Los Alamos park where research laboratories stood during the Manhattan Project, which developed the world’s first atomic bomb, placards carried anti-war slogans including “No More War for Oil and Empire” and “We’re sorry about Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”A group of veterans offered an opposing message across the park from the more than 500 activists. One sign read: “If there hadn’t been a Pearl Harbor, there wouldn’t have been a Hiroshima.”Steve Stoddard, 80, of Los Alamos, said the group was trying to counter the “demonizing of the bomb.””We feel the bomb saved our lives,” said Stoddard, a World War II veteran who fought in Europe. He believes he would have been sent to fight in Japan had the bombs not ended the war when they did.In Washington, G.R. Quinn, 54, of Bethesda, Md., held a sign across from the White House reading: “God Bless the Enola Gay,” referring to the B-29 that dropped the first bomb.Nearby, about three dozen peace activists declared President Bush was not doing enough for nuclear disarmament.At UNLV, students and activists talked eliminating nuclear weapons.”Our national laboratories, including the Test Site, are what’s keeping the proliferation going,” said Patrick Mahon, 63, a retired school administrator from Young Harris, Ga. “I don’t think we can tell other countries to give up their nuclear weapons as we continue to develop and improve our own.”Activists in California prepared to march to the gates of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, about 50 miles east of San Francisco. The facility was created years after the bombs were dropped, but it has helped develop nuclear weapons in the nation’s current arsenal.Children painted peace banners and musicians sang anti-war songs as close to 200 protesters prepared for the march.”I don’t believe that anyone is pro nuke,” said Ellen Doudna, 38, an elementary school teacher from Oakland, Calif. “I’m here because I believe Hiroshima should not be forgotten. This should be a day of mourning.”The uranium for the bomb was supplied by the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant in Oak Ridge, which continues to make parts for every warhead in the country’s nuclear arsenal.More than 1,000 demonstrators carrying signs and beating drums marched outside the Y-12 gates on Saturday in the largest peace protest ever in the city, which was built in secrecy during World War II. Fifteen protesters were arrested for blocking the road about 100 yards from the plant entrance, a misdemeanor.The group rang a small temple bell, placed paper cranes on Y-12’s barbed-wire fence, and read the names of 67 Oak Ridge scientists who petitioned President Truman in July 1945 to not “resort to the use of atomic bombs.””Those of us who live here have a special, maybe accidental, responsibility to think about the hard sides of these questions,” said Fran Ansley, a University of Tennessee law professor.The group also paused at 8:15 a.m. for two minutes of silence in honor of those killed in Hiroshima.Buddhist monk Gyoshu Utsumi, a native of Japan who walked about 300 miles to Oak Ridge from the Savannah River Site near Aiken, S.C., described the universal significance of what happened at Hiroshima six decades earlier.”This is unacceptable for every human being, not only for us,” Utsumi said. “We cannot let this experience repeat under any circumstances.”—Associated Press writers Christina Almeida in Las Vegas, Duncan Mansfield in Oak Ridge, Tenn., and Pete Yost in Washington contributed to this report.Vail, Colorado
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