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“I will write peace on your wings, and you will fly all over the world.”
— Sadako Sasaki
August 6th. Hiroshima Day. A time for reflection, for listening to the sounds of birds and water, the rustling leaves, for remembering who we are.
We remember Hiroshima not for the past, but for the future. We remember Hiroshima so that its past will not become our future. Hiroshima is best remembered with the plaintiff sounds of the bamboo flute, the Shakuhachi. It conjures up the devastation, the destruction, the encompassing emptiness of that day. The Shakuhachi reveals the tear in the fabric of humanity that was ripped opened by the bomb. Through that tear we could all be sucked as into a black hole in the universe of decency.
Nuclear weapons are not weapons at all. They are a symbol of an imploding human spirit. They are a fire that consumes the crisp air of decency. They are a crossroads where science joined hands with evil and apathy. They are a triumph of academic certainty wrapped in the arrogance and convoluted lies of deterrence. They are Einstein’s regret. They are many things, but not weapons — not instruments of war, but of genocide and perhaps of omnicide.
Those who gather to retell and listen to the story of Hiroshima and of Sadako are a community, a community committed to a human future. We may not know one another, but we are a community. And we are part of a greater community gathered throughout the world to commemorate this day, seeking to turn Hiroshima to Hope.
If we succeed, the child Sadako of a thousand cranes, who would have been an older woman now, will be remembered by new generations. She will be remembered long after the names and spirits of those who made and used and celebrated the bomb will have faded into the haunting sounds of the Shakuhachi.
David Krieger is president of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. He is the co-author with Daisaku Ikeda of Choose Hope: Your Role in Waging Peace in the Nuclear Age recently published by Middleway Press. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.