Hiroshima Peace Flame Run

06Aug93 Hiroshima Peace Flame Run

Santa Barbara News Press

Friday, August 6, 1993

Local News

Photo by Elaine Thompson/News-Press
[not shown here, captioned:]

Chanting Santa Barbaran David Williams helped coordinate the "Hiroshima Peace Flame Run" that is slated to begin at about 9 a.m. today from UCSB's Eternal Flame Memorial Peace Monument. The rainbow-colored structure -- designed by Williams -- symbolizes a world free of instability and nuclear weapons.

----begin retyped article text, headlined:

A call to heal wounds of Hiroshima horror

by Heesun Wee
News-Press Staff Writer

"Let us take the first step, let us, if we can, step back from the shadows of war and seek out the ways of peace. And if that journey is a 1,000 miles, let history record that we, in this land, at this time, took the first step."
-- President John F. Kennedy, 1963

Thirty years later, the assassinated leader's words live on. They are etched on UCSB's Eternal Flame Memorial Peace Monument near Buchanan Hall. The continuous flame symbolizes peace.

The Hiroshima Peace Flame Run is slated to begin at the monument at 9 a.m. today -- the same day America's atomic bomb devastated the Japanese city 48 years ago. About 100,000 people were killed instantly that day in 1945.

The United States dropped a second atomic bomb four days later -- Aug. 9, 1945 -- on Nagasaki, killing 40,000 people. Japan signed a formal surrender Sept. 2, 1945.

Several Santa Barbara County residents are among a dozen runners from California who will carry the monument's flame on a torch from UCSB to the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant. They hope to spread the monument's message of peace and commemorate the bombings.

"This is more of a healing run," said Shag Morrissey, a Santa Barbara resident who will run today. The Diablo plant is about 100 miles north of UCSB and nine miles northwest of Avila State Beach in San Luis Obispo County.

"We are commemorating a day when a great catastrophe occurred . This is our way of (remembering) it," said Wonono Rubio, another Santa Barbara runner. Morrissey and Rubio said they are running because they oppose nuclear weapons and said the bombings illustrate the tragedy of nuclear power.

The torch will eventually reach the United Nations headquarters in New York. The national run seeks an end to nuclear weapons.

While Morrissey and Rubio trek to the plant, numerous Santa Barbara County churches will set aside a couple of minutes during Sunday services and reflect on the two bombings. The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation in Santa Barbara mailed 160 letters to places of worship in the county requesting a few minutes of reflection.

"This is the first time such a large number of churches have been contacted," said David Krieger, president of the international foundation, which was founded in 1982 to eliminate nuclear weapons. "It seemed to us an appropriate way to commemorate that type of significant event. The church should have some role to play in that."

Bethany Congregational Church in Santa Barbara received one of the letters. Chiyo Oshiro said she and other church members will include a brief prayer in their two Sunday services. About 70 of the church's 90 members are Japanese-Americans, she said.

Some Santa Barbara County residents of Japanese descent declined to be interviewed for this report. Others -- including native Santa Barbaran Tom Hirashima -- said they will reflect on the bombings privately at home as American citizens and humanitarians.

After the peace flame arrives at the plant's gates Sunday, a ceremony remembering Nagasaki's bombing will follow on Monday, said Santa Barbaran David Williams, the run's coordinator. Additional volunteers will carry the torch to Atascadero Lake in San Luis Obispo County, west of Highway 101.

Later Monday, organizers are encouraging parents to bring their children to a lantern ceremony at 7 p.m. on the lake. Youngsters will launch, on the water, candles secured on plywood and halved plastic gallon-size milk bottles.

"There will be music, speakers and the launching of the lanterns. It's an observance of Hiroshima and Nagasaki," said Willard Osibin, a Templeton doctor and a member of Physicians for Social Responsibility. The group opposes nuclear weapons.

After the lantern ceremony, the torch will be carried to the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory in San Francisco and ultimately reach the United Nations by Sept. 20 -- the day before the U.N. General Assembly reconvenes.

"Hiroshima and Nagasaki are symbols of the tremendous destructive powers we're capable of by the use of weapons," Krieger said. "Without some commemoration, that knowledge won't remain real for people."