VOX POPULI: Lil Tokyo 4 Peace Prepares for Annual Atomic Age Morning Ceremony

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By MO NISHIDA
Community Activist

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(First published in The Rafu Shimpo on August 19, 2010.)

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The 19th annual Atomic Age Morning Ceremony will be held Saturday Aug. 21 at 8 a.m. at the foot of the “GrandMother/Father Grapefruit Tree of Life” that grows in the northwest corner of the rock garden of the Japanese American Culture and Community Center, 244 S. San Pedro St. in the heart of Little Tokyo.

The simple, non-sectarian ceremony, held every August to commemorate all those affected negatively by nuclear/atomic energy and honor all those who suffered and still suffer from nuclear power: from the Curies, who discovered radioactivity and ended up dying from radioactive poisoning; to the miners  of the raw material, uranium, in all the countries, such as the Navajo (Dineh) of Canada and the U.S.; to the very first victims of its use against humans at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, where a quarter million people like us were incinerated in a matter of minutes; to all of those G.I.’s and civilians after the war that witnessed the military experiments in Nevada and the Marianna Islands (Bikini) as well as those “downwind” communities in Nevada and the South Pacific; to those more recently such as Kazakhstan(USSR), Lop Nor (China), South Pacific (French), India and Pakistan and the list grows on.

The U.S. has more warheads and tonnage today then the rest of the world combined. To make matters worse, the weapons manufacturing industry of this country now uses “depleted” uranium to “case harden” their shells and bullets. Not to make uranium non-radioactive, but to “case harden” the shells.

This radioactive material is not only used in Afghanistan and Iraq, but in places like Sand Island, Hawaii, the island of Vieques, Puerto Rico and anywhere the U.S. military has “live fire” exercises. This stuff is poison and can last thousands of years in our environment!

By way of contrast, the parliament of the old U.S.S.R. ordered a complete stoppage to the testing of nuclear armaments. This fight was led by the “downwinders” of Kazakhstan and had mobilized the majority of people of the Soviet empire to oppose the testing.

We also take this opportunity to remind folks of the nuclear “accidents: at Three Mile Island in the U.S., Chernobyl in the U.S.S.R. and most recently the “accident” at the nuclear power plant in Japan. The use of nuclear power seems to be a huge moral and practical question.

Moral, considering the uncovered gross negligence and following cover up. Practical, in terms of “cheap power”(?) and environmental concerns.

Our short ceremony will use another source of power, “The Hiroshima Eternal Peace Flame,” which burns continuously at “Ground Zero” in Peace Park, Hiroshima, Japan.

The flame was brought to this country in a hand warmer from Ground Zero by a peace activist just before the 1984 L.A. Olympics. Our L.A. Koyasan Temple was asked to keep it for us.

The history of this flame, before it was used to light the candles of the “multitudes” at the dedication of the sacred flame at Ground Zero, is that it has been prayed to for peace at midnight for over the last 600 years at a Koyasan Temple in the inland sea.

We would also like to take this time to announce the Lil Tokyo Peace Vigil schedule for the rest of the year. The LT Peace Vigil is held every third Friday of the month from 5 to 6 p.m. gathering at the foot of our “GrandMother/Father Grapefruit Tree of Life” before moving to the pedestrian crossing (Sakura Crossing) on San Pedro St. between Second and Third streets in the Machi. The dates are:  Aug.20, Sept.17, Oct.15, Nov.19, and Dec.17.

Thought for the times, 10 years!  If you see us or anyone else, asking you to “HONK FOR PEACE”  please don’t hesitate, it is the least we can do. There are those who we can help—old folks, non-combatant women and children—in solidarity with the millions of us, who oppose unjust wars.

We are the majority! Increase the peace, please. May peace prevail on earth.

For more information, call Mo at (323) 371-4502.
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Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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