EAST HARRIET — Fifty people gathered at the Lyndale Park Peace Garden near Lake Harriet to solemnly reflect on the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki 70 years ago.
The Aug. 6 ceremony included a bell ringing — a sign of peace dating from the Armistice of World War I — led by Veterans for Peace. The program also included music, dance and a reading of “Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes,” the story of a young girl who wished for peace before dying from leukemia as a result of the atomic bombs.
The ceremony was part of the Days of Remembrance and Response, a program of events sponsored by the St. Paul–Nagasaki Sister City Committee. In attendance at the ceremony was a group of students from Junshin Senior Girls’ High School in Nagasaki who will be performing choral selections at the Nagasaki Commemoration at 7 p.m. on August 8.
Elaine Wynne, one of the tellers of the story of Sadako, noted the importance of commemorating the violent deaths of people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
“When we talk about nuclear war or nuclear weapons, we can’t talk about that in a casual way,” Wynne said. “… If we forget and we casually go on with our life on this day, we’re not really honoring the people who have given up so much, who have lost so much.”
Clarissa Hirsch, a downtown Minneapolis resident, said the ceremony was “beautiful.”
“I appreciate the music. I think that is a good way to bring people together,” Hirsch said. She said she tries to attend the commemoration events every year to remember what happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
“We spend an awful lot of time thinking about how to fight one another, and we need to do a lot more to recognize efforts at peace,” Hirsch explained.
For Wynne, the ceremony is an important act of remembrance.
“We’re making a decision to never forget that there are still people today that are still living, still struggling with the consequences of a 70-year-old-event, and their children and their children’s children are also affected by it,” she said as she spoke at the event. “We think of them, now, today.”
Days of Remembrance and Response will be hosting two more events to commemorate the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The Nagasaki Commemoration, featuring dance by Kairos Alive!, choral selections by Thousand Origami Crane Singers and Junshin Senior Girls’ High School, is 7 p.m. Aug. 8 at Global Harmony Labyrinth, Como Park, St. Paul. There will also be a peace concert and art show on 6 p.m. Aug. 9 at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 4201 Sheridan Ave. S.