People across the globe marked the 66th anniversary of the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki over the weekend, and locally, Mayor Casey Tanaka and Port Commissioner Lou Smith were among them.
The ceremonies began by ringing the Yokohama Friendship Bell at Shelter Island and ended with floating paper lanterns in the children’s pool at the Coronado Community Center Friday afternoon.
Tanaka spoke at both events. He was the only elected official to do so. San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders and county Supervisor Ron Roberts sent representatives to speak at Shelter Island.
Billed as “Peace and Humanity Day,” the event was organized by the San Diego chapter of the Worldwide Initiative to Safeguard Humanity (WISH) with assistance from the Port of San Diego, the City of Coronado and the Japan Society of San Diego and Tijuana.
The goal was not simply to remember the first and only time nuclear weapons were used in combat, but to showcase how two bitter enemies, the U.S and Japan, became friends and allies, said Akiko Mikamo, the event’s chairwoman. “We all need to follow this example and reach out to people, even our enemies.”
Tanaka spoke of the importance of memory. “This is a day to remember the sacrifices made for us, so that those sacrifices will not have been made in vain and that we don’t repeat what happened 66 years ago,” he said
“Given that nuclear weapons are a thousand times more powerful than the ones dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the burden has become even more important,” he added before placing a lighted lantern in the pool.
The lanterns were made of paper and sticks and carried messages of love, peace and harmony in English and Japanese. They were constructed on a table outside Coronado's City Council chambers during a reception held on the patio.
On the walls surrounding the tables, organizers placed posters depicting the bomb's aftermath in Japan – a charred lunchbox, the remains of an elementary school and a frozen wall clock.
After the reception a discussion took place. Ikunosuke Kawamura, a survivor of the attack, talked about his family’s experience and recalled the death of Sadako, a young girl who died of radiation-induced leukemia 10 years after the bomb was dropped.
Tanaka joined in the ceremony on his own initiative. “We are always happy to provide space to organizations working for peaceful purposes and community involvement,” he said.
Yet he also stressed that the city was not officially supporting the goals of the event. “Coronado does not take positions on issues so much larger than itself. World peace is something for the President of the United States to address, not Coronado.”
This is the second year the ceremony was held at the pool. About 50 people participated.