The crowd at Portland's 2017 Hiroshima & Nagasaki Day commemoration at the Japanese American Historical Plaza.
On Wednesday, August 9th, 2017, Oregonians gathered in downtown Portland on a hot summer evening to commemorate the tragedy of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II in 1945. This year marks the 72nd anniversary of the horrifying loss of tens of thousands of lives as the United States made the decision to deploy our nuclear arsenal. The event came a month after 122 countries voted in the United Nations to approve a historic treaty ban on nuclear weapons. It also occurred in the midst of the United States current embroilment in nuclear threats with North Korea.
The theme of this year's memorial was "Remembering Hiroshima and Nagasaki: From Despair to Hope." Oregon PSR's Associate Director Sean Tenney spoke of historic new movements to ban nuclear weapons and a rise in activism among his community as sources of hope as we honor the despair of Japanese communities' trauma. Community groups including faith communities and Veterans for Peace Chapter 72 held vigil with flags and a giant peace dove.
Sean Tenney, Oregon PSR's Associate Director, delivered keynote remarks.
Quakers from Multnomah Meeting of Friends
We honored indigenous activist Russell Jim for his steadfast and critically important work on Hanford Nuclear Reserve cleanup. We also displayed Mayor Ted Wheeler's proclamation that August 9th, 2017 is "Nagasaki Day for Nuclear Weapons Abolition."
Artists Yukiyo Kawano and Allison Cobb shared a multilingual poem as a teaser for their art event that was hosted in conjunction with the outdoor program. That art event, "Suspended Moment" was performed with butoh, sound, words, light, and poetry. It was performed in the shadow of the to-scale model of the nuclear weapon dropped on Hiroshima made out of Yukiyo's hibakusha grandmother's kimonos.
Allison Cobb and Yukiyo Kawano
Yukiyo Kawano's life-size nuclear bomb sculpture, made out of her grandmother's kimonos.
We were fortunate to have community activist Polo Catalani emceeing the event. The Reverend Yuki Sugahara of the Oregon Buddhist Temple led the crowd in a moment of silence. Portland Taiko was generous in performing as an opening and closing to the spoken program.
Emcee Polo Catalani
The Rev. Yuki Sugahara
We are grateful to all of the cosponsoring organizations and generous donors who helped to make this event possible. We will see you next year, and before then, we will see you in the streets as we mobilize to ensure that nuclear weapons are never used again.
CLICK HERE for video footage of the Portland Taiko opening performance.