NEW HAVEN -- Marking the 65th year since the first atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, vigils were held on the New Haven Green at time the bombs were dropped on August 6 and 9.
Al Marder, chair of the City of New Haven Peace Commission, greeted the fact that for the first time the General Secretary of the United Nations and a United States ambassador participated in this year's remembrances in Hiroshima. The stance of President Barack Obama creates openings, he said, to build a stronger movement against continued and increased funding of nuclear weapons production. He called for movement from symbolism to concrete actions for abolition of nuclear weapons.
Participants held oragami cranes given as gifts by the Japanese delegation to the thousands of participants who marched for abolition of nuclear weapons at the United Nations in May. New Haveners traveled to that march on a special peace train.
Linking the need for peace to the economic crisis, Rev. Sarah Lamar-Sterling of First and Summerfield United Methodist Church quoted Dwight D. Eisenhower's warning that every penny spent on armaments is a penny taken from those who need food, housing and health care. The church's weekly vigil against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan joined the event on the Green.
Referring to polls showing majority opposition to both wars, Henry Lowendorf, chair of the Greater New Haven Peace Council, called attention to the largest ever vote against funding the Afghanistan war in Congress last month, including Rep. Rosa DeLauro, whose district is centered in New Haven.
Hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians were killed in 1945 when the atomic bombs were dropped by the United States in the closing days of World War II, although Japan was already on the verge of surrender. "Even in war, the killing of innocent women, children and senior citizens is a crime," Marder said.
On Sunday a group bicycle ride was held around perimeter of the area that would have been obliterated had the bombs been dropped on New Haven.
Photo by Art Perlo. New Haven, Conn Town Green vigil for abolition of nuclear weapons on Nagasaki Day, August 9.