Good evening. My name is Rick Wayman. I’m the Deputy Director of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, and it is my pleasure to welcome you to the 24th annual Sadako Peace Day commemoration.
It is good to be back here today. Thank you so much to the staff of La Casa de Maria for your outstanding efforts to make this year’s event possible. Thank you to the staff, volunteers, and donors who are giving everything they can to rebuild this special place.
As humans, we face two clear existential threats: nuclear weapons and climate change. For the first 23 Sadako Peace Days, we remembered the victims of nuclear weapons: the hundreds of thousands who were killed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the countless people around the world who have been impacted by nuclear weapons development and testing. We also remember all innocent victims of war.
This year, we find ourselves standing in Sadako Peace Garden at an unexpected ground zero of climate change. So today, we also remember those who lost their lives in the debris flow back in January.
In our community, we have been living through radical uncertainty from forces of nature amplified by manmade climate change. NAPF President David Krieger wrote about this in The Hill.
He wrote, “Death and destruction did not discriminate. Nature only did what nature does. It was mostly beyond our control.”
He continued, “But we also live daily with the radical uncertainty of nuclear survival, which is not a force of nature, but rather a man-made threat. It is a threat entirely of our own making, and it can be remedied by facing it and doing something about it.”
It is inspiring to see the determination and resilience here at La Casa de Maria and throughout Montecito to recover from an inconceivable tragedy.
A friend and role model, Setsuko Thurlow, was 13 years old when the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on her city of Hiroshima. As an adult, she has dedicated her life to working for the abolition of nuclear weapons so that no one would ever again have to experience what she did. In December 2017, Setsuko was on the stage in Oslo to accept the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. She, like so many hibakusha, refuse to accept the idea that nuclear weapons and humanity can co-exist. She is determined, she is resilient, and it is inevitable that her goal – our goal – of a nuclear weapons-free world will be achieved.
With both climate change and nuclear weapons, we have individual and collective responsibilities to change our behavior. At NAPF, we offer many ways for you to stand up, speak out, and join in the movement to abolish nuclear weapons. Please visit our information table after this evening’s program to find out what you can do, including adding your voice in support of a forthcoming Santa Barbara City Council resolution to make Santa Barbara a nuclear-free zone.
Thank you for being here this evening. And thank you for demonstrating the determination and resilience of our community.