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Posted by on Oct 3, 2017 in Blogs

HIROSHIMA DAY, 2017

HIROSHIMA DAY, 2017

by Toby Brooks

Hiroshima Day is an emotional day for me.  I suppose it is for everyone who works for peace.  Maybe it’s more intense for me because I was born and grew up in the United States and carry an extra feeling of responsibility for the suffering that my country caused. On August 6, this year, I was compelled to make a statement.  The night before, I made a sign saying,

REMEMBER HIROSHIMA

REMEMBER NAGASAKI

NO NUKES

I dressed in black and at 2:15 in the afternoon, stationed myself in front of the U.S. Embassy.  Most people walked by with no comment.  A few people, mostly women, gave me encouraging waves.  One woman walked by, waved, nodded and said, “today.”  One man approached me, explaining that he speaks French and asked what “nukes” means.  After I answered him, he nodded his approval.  A woman, who looked as if she might have been of Japanese origin, asked permission to take my picture.  By this time, about a half hour had passed and I noticed several people across the street, pointing cameras at me.  I guessed that at least one camera belonged to an embassy staff person.

Not surprisingly, shortly after that, I was approached by two security guards.  They politely asked if I would ”mind going across the street, since I was on United States property.” I replied that I understood that the building was U.S.  property but that I was a taxpayer, standing on a city sidewalk.  They responded that the sidewalk and barriers were paid for by the U.S. Embassy.  After a few more word, I agreed to cross the street.  Honestly, being a Sunday summer afternoon, my sign was more obvious to the passing crowd than it had been in front of the Embassy. One man pulled his jeep close enough to the sidewalk to say, “The greatest nuclear danger is the Fukushima reactor in Japan.” I have no reason to argue with that comment. At 3:13 I rolled up my sign and headed home.

The next day, I wrote to my city councilor, Catherine McKenney, and asked who owned the sidewalk in front of the embassy. The answer was a complicated one, which in short said that embassies have agreements with cities to claim the space in front of their buildings. Dear Catherine added that she supports my efforts for peace.

My first goal was to witness against nuclear war.  My second, to get others thinking about it.  Both goals were achieved and it was heartwarming to get encouragement from Councilor McKenney.