Hiroshima Day commemoration, 6th August


This year, as every year, Kingston Peace Council, supporters and friends gathered to remember the dropping of the atom bomb on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. The bomb was so powerful that it killed 200,000 at a stroke and eliminated their city. Many also suffered grievously from illnesses caused by radiation.  Japan was on the point of surrendering.


The outrage prompted calls for nuclear weapons to be eliminated, yet sufficient nuclear weapons to eliminate everyone alive, 5,000 times over, were subsequently made. Nuclear Arms Reduction talks have produced negligible results.


Many of those with first hand knowledge of the event are no longer around. We are passing now from the phase of remembered knowledge to the phase of acquired knowledge. Therefore it is important to continue to mark the anniversary, acknowledging the folly and the tragedy, to keep the memory alive, and to do whatever we can as ordinary people to prevent other ordinary people falling prey to nuclear and other deadly ‘war games’.


We gathered at the riverside in Canbury Gardens. The event was well attended, with about 50 people present.  It was a gorgeous evening, warm and light, with pale golden sky and reflections on the Thames ruffled by a gentle breeze. 


Sheila Griffin, the Deputy Mayor of Kingston, spoke with great clarity and sincerity (her speech is reproduced opposite), after which we held a minute's silence, and then launched a flotilla of small boats with candles glowing in the dusk.


The boats and lanterns obediently floated a couple of metres from shore, slowly drifting downstream as the sun set, displaying their dancing lights.  There was great diversity, with some little more than night lights in food packaging, but some professionally made Japanese lanterns which shone with delicate shades of red and yellow, brought by local Japanese visitors.


Noel Hamel


Remembering Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Sheila Griffin's speech:


"It is very important that we remember the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with atomic bombs.  The devastation caused by these bombs is even now almost impossible to envisage.


General Eisenhower, Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe, doubted the necessity of the use of such force, as Japan was all but a defeated nation and on the point of surrender.  Other commentators of history of that period say that the main objective was to send a message to the Soviet Union and Stalin showing the might of American power.  This led to the arms race between the Soviet Union, the United States and the West.


Apart from using up valuable resources and money, the bomb is, in my opinion, unusable.  But instead of recognising this fact, more countries such as Iran and North Korea seem to think it necessary to have these evil weapons.


More than ever we need to keep the message of disarmament alive.  In the present world situation, there must be greater emphasis on finding peaceful solutions to problems.  We must be prepared to look at why people turn to terrorism, what are the causes, and try to resolve problems in a peaceful way.  We face the bigger threat now to mankind, that is the threat of gobal warming.  Our priority should be to try to find answers to global warming before it is too late, not continuing to add to the problem by fighting wars."