‘I WILL WRITE PEACE ON YOUR WINGS’
At the foothills of the Santa Ynez mountains, about 75 individuals came together Tuesday evening to commemorate the victims of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The empathy of the attendants at the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s 25th Annual Sadako Peace Day pierced through space and time. It was as if the years that have gone by since the bombings, 74 of them, and the miles between Santa Barbara and Japan, 6,000 of them, vanished, bringing the spirits of those who lost their lives to the ceremony in Westmont College.
The combined death toll of the atomic bombings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki ranges from 130,000 to 230,000. Estimates of the lives that the initial blasts took are 70,000 for Hiroshima and 40,000 for Nagasaki. However, the detrimental effects of the bombs — Little Boy on Hiroshima and Fat Man on Nagasaki — did not stop there. Over time, the two atomic bombs also claimed the lives of those affected by the radiation.
One of them was Sadako Sasaki, whose name Tuesday’s ceremony bears. When Little Boy blasted Hiroshima 74 years ago, Sadako was two years old. A decade later, Sadako was diagnosed with radiation-induced leukemia and died. Before her death, Sadako folded more than 1,000 paper cranes, whose wings carried her wishes.
“I will write peace on your wings, and you will fly all over the world,” wrote Sadako on the origami wings.
Sadako and others who lost their lives to the atomic bombs were honored with songs and poems Tuesday evening. The poems were written by David Krieger, NAPF’s co-founder and president who will be retiring at the end of the year.
The poems portrayed the pain and confusion of warring times and the death they bring. The songs also addressed similar topics.
The closing song was “Ban Shiki: A Song of Forgiveness.” Bob Nyosui Sedivy played this song on the shakuhachi, a bamboo flute. Mr. Sedivy took the crowd through the song twice.
Once in the high octave, which represented asking for forgiveness.
“We Americans have a lot to ask forgiveness for,” said Mr. Sedivy.
The second time though is in the low octave, and it represents giving forgiveness to oneself.
“That’s the hard one,” Mr. Sedivy said.
Those at the Sadako Peace Day are aiming to prevent such destructive incidents like the bombings on the two Japanese sites from repeating.
Currently, nine countries have about 14,000 nuclear weapons according to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.
“Most are many times more powerful than the atomic bombs dropped on Japan in 1945,” writes ICAN. “A single nuclear warhead, if detonated on a large city, could kill millions of people, with the affects persisting for decades.”
Those who wish to learn more about the nuclear weapon situation in the world can visit www.icanw.org or check out Santa Barbara-based NAPF’s website atwww.wagingpeace.org.