To Mourn and Resist: Nagasaki and Hiroshima

To Mourn and Resist: Nagasaki and Hiroshima
Courtesy Photo Peace memorial (Flame of Hiroshima and Nagasaki) in Ueno Toshogu Shrine in Tokyo, Japan. Dedicated to the victims of the atomic bombing of 1945.

Courtesy Photo
Peace memorial (Flame of Hiroshima and Nagasaki) in Ueno Toshogu Shrine in Tokyo, Japan. Dedicated to the victims of the atomic bombing of 1945.

By Dick Bennet

OMNI Center Founder

During World War II, the United States decimated many Japanese civilian cities in that mutually merciless war. Two of the cities were obliterated by just one bomb for each city — the new nuclear bombs. These were mainly civilian cities. According to one source, of the 200,000 deaths in Hiroshima and the 140,000 deaths in Nagasaki, over 95 percent of the combined casualties of the two cities were civilian. The deaths directly attributable to the bombings are estimated conservatively at 300,000.

Mourning These Deaths

The Hebrew religion has a word for their ceremony of mourning: it’s called “Kaddish.” One form of this prayer is recited by mourners. Annually we express our sorrow for those killed at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and for all Japanese civilians killed by indiscriminate bombings from the air. Each year we grieve for those civilian dead, who are, to some of us, murdered innocents. The Remembrance is our Kaddish of lamentation.

The Long-Range Consequences

But the consequences of the bombs did not end with the bombings themselves. A nuclear bombs race ensued. To keep ahead the U.S. tested over 60 hydrogen bombs on some atolls of the Marshall Islands. Today nine nations have the bombs. Today the U.S. has budgeted over a trillion dollars for nuclear weapons innovations in violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Yet most people are silent. Perhaps they think we are no longer endangered by the existence of thousands of nuclear bombs in the possession of nine nations, some of them in conflict. Or perhaps the people cannot think or feel what happened at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, numbed by the constant fear-mongering by our government: Cold War, War on Drugs, War against Terrorism, War on Islamic State….Permanent War.


But you who are reading this article in this newspaper today, you are not numb or dumb. Together we remember for a purpose.

Each year at the Remembrance we mourn, but we also resolve to resist. Great union organizer Mother Jones’ motto was “Don’t Mourn, Organize.” The magnitude of the two bombings, the callousness and racism they represent, the lack of remorse and apology by our leaders (when the Japanese leaders have traveled the globe apologizing to the countries where they had plundered and killed), require a response filled both with mourning and resolve to abolish nuclear weapons.

In 2015 an international nonviolent movement exists to end nuclear weapons. Here are three mainstays of this resistance, one of them close to us: the international network of antinuclear organizations, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, and the Marshall Islands Nuclear Zero Law Suits.

Anti-Nuclear Organizations

Pressure has been sustained around the world by devoted groups working for nuclear disarmament. Here are some of those in the U.S.

In Arkansas:

WAND, Women Acting for New Directions, coordinated by Jean Gordon in Little Rock, a branch of the original Women Against Nuclear Destruction started by the Australian Dr. Helen Caldicott.

Arkansas Center for Peace and Justice, also in Little Rock, Bob Estes director.

St. Scholastica Catholic Center in Fort Smith. Sisters have attended our Remembrance ever since OMNI began.

And OMNI. The Remembrance is one of our earliest activities, and we publish newsletters and demonstrate against wars and nuclear dangers.

In the U.S.A.

These organizations oppose nuclear weapons full-time:

Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (NAPF) in California. Founder and president, David Krieger. Offers many opportunities, including a speaker’s bureau, The Sunflower monthly e-newsletter providing information on nuclear weapons abolition, and assists the Marshall Islands lawsuits.

Ground Zero Organization and Magazine to End Trident Submarines. Ground Zero has a permanent residence and protest at Bangor, Wash., the Trident submarines base; one submarine is extraordinarily lethal.

Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, in Maine, headed by the indefatigable Bruce Gagnon. Publishes Space Alert!

Nukewatch and Nukewatch Quarterly. Located in Wisconsin, dedicated in their newspaper and by direct action to abolish nuclear weapons and power.

Nevada Desert Experience, annual walk to the nuclear bomb test sites. Check their newsletter. Another of the many Catholic-founded oppositions.

The Nuclear Resister sustained by a couple who keep track of all individuals resisting nuclear weapons, including all on trial and in jail. See their newspaper.

Look them up with your search engine and assist them. Just a letter or call of thanks will help, but they have no big donors, especially the first five. Help them, get involved.


The Republic of the Marshall Islands, a former hydrogen-bomb testing ground for the United States, is challenging the nine nuclear-armed nations with lawsuits, claiming that the countries have failed to move towards a world without nuclear weapons as required by treaty. The lawsuit claims the nuclear nations have failed to comply with the 44-year-old Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty, which seeks to eliminate nuclear weapons, and promote the peaceful use of nuclear power. Filed on April 24, 2014, it adopts the line: If not us, who? If not now, when?

The Marshall Islands lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. Federal Court in San Francisco and in the International Court of Justice, claims that the U.S. has failed its duties under Article VI of the Treaty because it continues to modernize its weapons with no intention of disarmament and is failing to pursue good faith negotiations, as set out in the treaty.

NAPF is the administrator for the Marshall Islands Nuclear Zero lawsuits.

You and I are not alone; we have much support for action against nuclear weapons. And they need public pressure behind them. Contact these organizations. Get involved with as many as you have time for. You know what nuclear bombs can do: help the people who are trying to ensure our children’s future.

A global network of determined world nonviolent organizations, a new international umbrella organization, and lawsuits seeking application of international law—all determined to bring world pressure on the nuclear nations. An intransigent US that, however, under pressure of facts and public demand is at last recognizing the global threat of Climate Change; we can also make it change its nuclear policy. This is no time for celebration, but it is a time when people who understand the dangers of nuclear weapons can find strength around the world in their opposition.

Remembrance of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Sunday, August 9, 7pm, at the Fulbright Peace Fountain, University of Arkansas. Plenty of free parking all around—Arkansas Avenue, all yellow faculty parking, all student parking.

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