By Meghan K. Donovan
On August 7, 2022, at 7:30 p.m., Cleveland Peace Action will commemorate the August 6 and 9, 1945 bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This event will take place at Rockefeller Lagoon at East 105th Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and will feature speakers, music, and poetry. The event will conclude with floating lanterns on the lagoon at sunset, approximately 8:40 p.m., an annual tradition on the Ota River in Hiroshima.
At least 129,000 to 226,000 people were killed in the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Half of them died slowly from burns, radiation, other injuries, and malnutrition. Hibakusha (from the Japanese meaning “person affected by a bomb”) and their descendants still suffer the effects of these tragedies, including cancer, post-traumatic stress disorder, and discrimination.
Those familiar with the late poet laureate Daniel Thompson’s work may recall his poem “Ground Zero: Downtown Cleveland,” a reflection on how nuclear war affects humanity on a local scale as well as a global one. “The war in Ukraine has raised the chances of nuclear war, intentional or accidental,” said Francis Chiappa, longtime anti-nuclear activist and Cleveland Peace Action board member.
The U.S. government is modernizing its nuclear weapons arsenal at a projected cost of more than $1 trillion over 30 years. While the Pentagon has consistently received a disproportionate share of the national budget regardless of who is in office, the new investment in nuclear weapons is a particularly alarming development.
“We call on the two largest nuclear powers, Russia and the United States, to make sure this [nuclear war] never happens,” said Chiappa.