76 Years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki: A call to memory and hope

Peace Advocate July 2021

2015 Peace Lantern Ceremony
2015 Peace Lantern Ceremony: 70th Anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki Atomic Bombing by --Mark-- is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

by Maryellen Kurkulos

As humanity grapples with multiple and intensifying existential crises, leaders of the nuclear powers spar as though in some alternate universe, oblivious to the reality that even a limited nuclear exchange would have disastrous, irreversible consequences for our environment and human survival. The United States and Russia are locked in a new nuclear arms race, spending hundreds of billions of dollars to upgrade their genocidal and omnicidal nuclear arsenals. Similarly, the confrontational anti-China policy initiatives from the Biden administration and the provocative military actions by both the United States and China in the region of the South China Sea have precipitated a new and dangerous Cold War. The danger of nuclear war, triggered by an accident or miscalculation, has never been greater.

Mobilizing for Hiroshima Nagasaki 76: Join the Global Peace Wave 2021

Mass Peace Action is urging all peace groups, people of faith, youth, community groups, and human rights advocates across the state to organize events during Hiroshima Nagasaki Week, August 2nd to 9th. Register your event with us here! These events will be held in solidarity with global “Peace Wave 2021” initiated by Gensuikyo – Japan Council against A and H Bombs – in memory of the more than 200,000 lives lost in the atomic bombings of those two cities. Already 20 events have been scheduled for that week and more are to come! We are encouraging everyone to take part in these efforts, no matter what the size of your event. Whether you take action as an individual or participate in a group effort with loved ones, your faith community, or a civic organization, holding a commemoration event matters. Make your efforts known.

“Peace Wave 2021” renews the call for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons and urges all nations, including our own, to join the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). For those of us in the U.S. — the preeminent world power and the only country ever to have used nuclear weapons–  here are the vital steps we must take right now:

  • Halt the current $1.7 Trillion expansion and “modernization” of U.S. nuclear weapons, focusing especially on defunding the first strike, land-based ICBM “Money Pit” Missile.          
  • Adopt the “No First Use” doctrine; the U.S. should declare it will never be the first to use nuclear weapons under any circumstances.
  • Eliminate the president’s “sole, unchecked authority” to initiate nuclear war and destroy life on earth as we know it.
  • Remove the hundreds of U.S. nuclear missiles from “hair trigger” alert, ready to be launched within minutes of a presidential order. This alert status increases the chances of a launch response to a false alarm. 
  • Negotiate with other nuclear-armed nations to build a path to common security arrangements, with agreements related to Taiwan, the South China/West Philippine Sea, Ukraine, and the climate emergency given the highest priority.
  • Build support for the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which entered into force this year and outlaws these weapons of mass destruction

Sharing in the Arlington premiere of The War Game on Hiroshima Day

On Hiroshima Day, Friday August 6th, Mass Peace Action and Physicians for Social Responsibility are sponsoring a special live, in-person screening of Peter Watkins’ Academy-award winning film The War Game at the Regent Theatre in Arlington. This 1966 docudrama depicting a hypothetical nuclear attack on Britain was so provocative that it was banned from broadcast by the BBC. Following the film, internationally renowned nuclear disarmament expert Dr. Ira Helfand will take questions from the audience and discuss practical steps for engagement. Afterwards, attendees are invited to take part in a candlelight vigil outside the theater. If your group would like to join the growing list of cosponsors please write to info@masspeaceaction.org.

Buy Tickets
Suggested donation $10

Connecting with a special peace ceremony live-streamed to Japan

At 7 pm, on August 5th, Hiroshima Day eve, join the Actors Refuge Repertory Theatre for their 5th annual Hiroshima-Nagasaki Peace Memorial Ceremony to promote the peaceful art of hand crafting and the power of storytelling. The first of this 2-part ceremony will be held in the Japanese garden at the Showa Institute in Jamaica Plain. It will include messages of peace from the Mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki via live-stream, violinist Toshi Motoyama, and a reading of the children’s book “Okori-Jizo”. Then on August 8th at 9 PM  (10 AM Japan time, Nagasaki Day), part 2 will be held intercontinentally via Zoom and will also feature a testimonial from Hibakusha, a survivor of the atom bomb. For both events, attendees are encouraged to bring their arts and handmade crafts and share their stories and messages of hope and peace.

Meeting the challenge ahead

To bring the United States, Russia, China and the six other nuclear powers “back from the brink,” we need a powerful grassroots movement dedicated to nuclear disarmament. Join the Hiroshima Nagasaki global “Peace Wave 2021” with us! Help us build robust popular demands that will reach the citizens of this country and influence our leaders, who seem blithely unaware of the folly of threatening nuclear annihilation to maintain United States global military domination. As we continue to build public support for the TPNW here, and strengthen our ties with the global movement for abolition, we will in turn spur disarmament forces in Europe, Japan, and other countries to ratify the Treaty. Our vision is achievable: together we can pressure the major nuclear powers to engage in “good faith” negotiations to eliminate their nuclear arsenals, as they pledged to do in 1970 as parties to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

This is a solemn and urgent moment, but with collective resolve and commitment, it is one filled with the possibility of action to insure a future free of nuclear weapons. We are counting on you to take the first step with us. Please join us!

Buy Tickets

Share your plans now

Already, groups in Andover, Arlington, Bedford, Cambridge, Dorchester, Easthampton, Fall River, Jamaica Plain, Martha’s Vineyard, Pittsfield, Springfield, Waltham, Watertown, and Worcester have registered events – and more are being planned! They will feature candle boat lanterns on nearby waterways, songs and speeches, poetry readings, silent vigils, the ringing of church bells and more. Decide how you can contribute to the commemorations. Register your information with us so we can include your event in our calendar of observances and magnify attention to the work of peace-loving people in Massachusetts. Also, look out for our social media toolkit to share your events, photographs and videos. We are waiting to hear from you at info@masspeaceaction.org!

In peace and solidarity,


This article has been updated from the original with corrected details for the Actors Refuge Repertory Theatre program.