Hiroshima Remembrance Held in Ashland
On Friday, several dozen people gathered in Lithia Park in Ashland to hold a vigil in remembrance of the atomic bomb being dropped in Hiroshima, Japan 76 years ago.
At 8:15 AM, a gong was rung to commemorate the exact time in Japan when the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. The event was planned by Peace House, a non-profit whose mission is to promote non violent conflict resolution. It included lighting a memorial flame, reading a letter from the mayor of Hiroshima, a moment of silence and a prayer water ceremony.
“It was beautiful,” said attendant Margot Emley. “Very peaceful, which is what we are all trying to cultivate right now. It was very reflective and I don't want to put too many words on it because it would sort of vitiate the experience of the whole thing. I appreciated its simplicity and its depth.”
The event also was to denounce nuclear weapons. Organizer Estelle Voeller, said that after doing research into the U.S. decision to use nuclear weapons, she wanted to get involved in promoting peace.
“We Americans have a special responsibility to lead the world in reducing and then eliminating nuclear weapons,” she said.
Ashland has a long history of interest in nuclear disarmament. It was the second city in the US to declare itself as a Nuclear Free Zone and it is currently a member of Mayors for Peace, an international program that was founded by the mayor of Hiroshima in 1982.
Many of the attendants had personal ties to Japan. A few sang in the peace choir that went to Hiroshima in the early 2000s. One speaker, Ashland City Council Member Shaun Moran, lived in Japan for several years. He read the City of Ashland Mayoral Proclamation recognizing August 6 as a day of remembrance and commitment.
The artwork for the yearly event was created by Ashland artist Betty LaDuke. It depicts two people embracing with birds between them. LaDuke says that her work was inspired by a 2018 trip to Hiroshima and says that the wood print is a symbol of hope for a nuclear war-free future.