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Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility would like to express our appreciation to all who attended and supported “How Can We Create a Nuclear-Free World? Not Another Hiroshima, Nagasaki or Fukushima.” on Sunday, August 7th, 2011. This year’s commemoration was one of our most successful, impactful and well-attended events ever, and expanded significantly on what we have done in years past. Our special thanks go to the great group of volunteers who helped us plan, publicize and carry out this year’s event!
The commemoration, which is held annually around the anniversaries of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima (on August 6th) and Nagasaki (on August 9th) of 1945, this year incorporated the ongoing nuclear disaster at Fukushima. Because of the many close historical and contemporary links between the nuclear weapons industry and the nuclear power industry, both of which significantly endanger the public health, imperil the environment and drain taxpayer subsidies, we used the opportunity to educate people about the very real dangers of nuclear technologies and to press for a world free of these twin threats.
The turnout for this year’s event was spectacular, with at least 350 people in attendance for our formal program of speakers, plus many more passing through during our three-hour long peace fair on a warm, sunny Sunday along the Portland waterfront. Many in attendance took action by signing postcards and petitions to urge Oregon’s senators (or their home senators for the many out-of-town visitors who attended) to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, as well as by visiting the informational booths of some of our organizational sponsors to find out more about our shared work for a safer, more peaceful and healthier world. We were delighted and inspired to see so many people gathered together to learn about, and to take action for, a nuclear-free world!
Our speakers gave powerful testimonies on what we need to do to prevent another Hiroshima, Nagasaki or Fukushima. Atomic bomb survivor (or hibakusha) Dr. Hideko Tamura Snyder moved many in the crowd by describing her experiences as a young girl who survived both the initial blast and the lingering radiation at Hiroshima; many of Hideko’s friends and family members did not. Eugene Ruyle reminded us of the need for concrete actions to eliminate nuclear power and nuclear weapons as a representative of Veterans for Peace, who had their 2011 National Convention in Portland concurrent with our event. Pat Hoover, a Hanford downwinder, shared a testimony on the passing of Dr. Rudi Nussbaum, a longtime Oregon PSR member and a powerful voice in the movement for a nuclear-free future. Sean Egusa spoke of his recent trip to assist the survivors of the tsunami that devastated Fukushima on March 11th of this year, a natural disaster that precipitated a preventable, man-made nuclear disaster to match Three Mile Island or Chernobyl.
We were also joined by Nobel Prize nominated activist Kathy Kelly, founder of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, who contrasted the spending of trillions of dollars to support industries designed to kill humans with spending even a tiny fraction of that money towards eliminating hunger, disease, and poverty, a far more noble, wise, and sustainable alternative to endless industrialized warfare. The formal program of speakers was wrapped up by Erica Maranowski, winner of Oregon PSR’s 2011 Greenfield Peace Writing Contest, who read her winning essay on the deeper cultural roots of violence and humanity’s need to overcome these personal and cultural deficiencies in order to create true and lasting peace for our species.
Our sincere appreciation goes to all of our speakers, as well as to Reverend Joseph Santos-Lyons for emceeing our event and to Reverend Shunko Komeji for leading the opening invocation. We would also like to thank our amazing performers for keeping the crowd entertained and engaged throughout the day. Portland Taiko gave an energetic opening to the event with their traditional Japanese drumming, and the Himawari (or Sunflower) Chorus followed with traditional Japanese singing and koto music. Chisao Hata’s two-part performance piece, Remember my Face, was also a welcomed addition to the program. We ended the commemoration on an upbeat and forward-looking note with a performance by local musicians The Slants, whose self-applied “Chinatown Dance Rock” style reminded attendees that commemorating tragedy and celebrating a brighter, more hopeful future are not mutually exclusive, but rather go hand in hand.
Thanks again to all of the individuals and organizations that made “How Can We Create a Nuclear-Free World? Not Another Hiroshima, Nagasaki or Fukushima” such a success! Co-sponsoring organizations included Oregon PSR, Alliance for Democracy, American Friends Service Committee, Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon, Dharma Rain Zen Center, Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon Interfaith Power and Light Project, First Unitarian Peace Action Committee, Greenpeace, Hanford Challenge, Heart of America Northwest, KBOO Radio, Living Earth, Metanoia Peace Community, Multnomah Meeting of Friends Peace & Social Concerns Committee, Oregon Hiroshima Club, Peace & Justice Works Iraq Affinity Group, Portland JACL, Portland Peaceful Response Coalition, SGI Buddhists, Sierra Club, Veterans for Peace Chapter 72, War Resisters League and Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom.
For more information on our annual commemoration of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, actions that YOU can take towards a nuclear-free world, or to get involved in planning or volunteering for next year’s event, please contact Sean Tenney, Oregon PSR’s Communications and Development Associate, at 503-274-2720.
To view photos from this event, please visit Oregon PSR's Facebook page today!