This is a transcript of David Krieger’s speech at the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s 2011 Sadako Peace Day commemoration.
Welcome to the 17th annual Sadako Peace Day commemorating the tragedies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
We are very pleased to have with us today our principal speaker, Dr. Jimmy Hara, a Los Angeles medical doctor who has been a leader in the struggle for a nuclear weapons-free world. We are also honored to have with us Shigeko Sasamori, a survivor of Hiroshima, who will accept the Foundation’s World Citizen Award on October 9th on behalf of the survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings. We will also have with us for that occasion Tadatoshi Akiba, the distinguished former mayor of Hiroshima.
Today is the 66th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki. Three days ago, on August 6th, was the 66th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. We have now lived under the threat of nuclear annihilation for two-thirds of a century.
We come together to share in remembrance, reflection and resistance.
Remembrance of the tragedies that befell the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the massive death and destruction caused by these powerful new weapons.
Reflection on the power of our technologies for good or evil and on the only force capable of controlling our powerful weaponry and turning it to constructive ends – the human spirit.
Resistance to the continued reliance upon these weapons of mass annihilation by a small number of states and to the unconscionable allocation of public resources to war and its preparation.
We remember so as not to repeat the tragedy. We reflect to place the tragedy within the context of our lives and our time. We resist to fulfill our human responsibility to ourselves, to each other and to those who will follow us on this planet.
We are a community committed to ending the threat of nuclear annihilation, and we are linked to other communities sharing this commitment across the globe.
We are linked to Sadako of the thousand cranes and to other innocent victims of war and nuclear annihilation. Sadako wrote on the wings of a paper crane she folded, “I will write peace on your wings, and you will fly all over the world.” Her cranes have indeed reached across oceans – to us here in Santa Barbara and to many other parts of the world.
I’d like to read you an excerpt of the Nagasaki Peace Declaration, which was shared earlier today in that city:
“Do we still believe that the world is safer thanks to nuclear deterrence? Do we still take it for granted that no nuclear weapons will ever be used again? Now seeing how the radiation released by an accident at just a single nuclear power station is causing such considerable confusion in society, we can clearly understand how inhumane it is to attack people with nuclear weapons.
“We call upon all people in the world to simply imagine how terrifying it would be if a nuclear weapon hundreds of times more powerful than the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs were to be exploded in the sky above our cities.
“While intense heat rays would melt human beings and anything else nearby, horrific blast winds would fling buildings through the air and crush them instantly. A countless number of charred bodies would be scattered among the ruins. Some people would hover between life and death, while others would suffer from their injuries. Even if there were survivors, the intense radioactivity would prevent any rescue efforts. Radioactive substances would be carried far away by the wind to all corners of the world, resulting in widespread contamination of the earth’s environment, and in affecting people with a plague of health effects for generations to come.
“We must never allow anyone in the future to experience such agony. Nuclear weapons are never needed. No reason can ever justify human beings possessing even one nuclear weapon.”
We appreciate your being here and hope you will enjoy the program of music, poetry and contemplation. We invite you to join us in working for a more peaceful world, free of nuclear weapons and nuclear threat.
I’d like to conclude with a poem from my book, God’s Tears. It begins with a quote by General Eisenhower.
“It wasn’t necessary to hit them
with that awful thing”
— General Dwight D. Eisenhower
We hit them with it, first
at Hiroshima and then at Nagasaki –
the old one-two punch.
The bombings were tests really, to see
what those “awful things” would do.
First, of a gun-type uranium bomb, and then
of a plutonium implosion bomb.
Both proved highly effective
in the art of obliterating cities.
It wasn’t necessary.