Large crowd convenes at Japanese Bell, recalls Hiroshima and Nagasaki; 22 organizations sponsor event

DES MOINES -- (Catholic Peace Ministry) A crowd of 100 assembled at the Japanese Bell on the Iowa State Capitol grounds Tuesday evening, August 9, 2011 to observe the 66th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The theme this year was "From Hiroshima to Fukashima: The Nuclear Fallout."

Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie received a warm introduction and recalled his travels to the United Nations and working for Mayors for Peace. Cownie said he has spent time talking to experts on what the nuclear fallout would be. He spoke of his conversations with Dr. James Hansen, a foremost expert on nuclear policy in the United States with Iowa roots. "Nuclear exchange could wipe out half the entire human race," Cownie observed.

In addition, Cownie said he felt humbled to be with people who work for peace and encouraged the crowd not to give up hope.

Ann Suellentrop of Physicians for Social Responsibility spoke of the broad-based campaign in Kansas City to place a ballot initiative before voters on November 8th to prevent a nuclear weapons part facility using taxpayer monies.

"We call upon all people to take action and get involved, you can help in Iowa." She said people should go to http://www.peaceworkskc.org, http://www.nukewatch.org/KCNukePlant/index.html or http://www.peaceworkskc.org/registry-form.html.

Sullentrop also said that more people in the United States have been arrested for committing nonviolent civil disobedience, to prevent nuclear castrophe in the past year than in any previous year since the 1980s. She cited Frank Cordaro, who gave credit to the Catholic Workers for organizing large civil disobedience to prevent the manufacture of more nuclear weapons (specifically, Kansas City).

Jane Magers leads a coalition working to stop Iowa Senate File 390, the building of a nuclear power plant in Iowa. Despite public opposition, Magers said the Iowa Senate would try to press for an immediate vote on S File 390 when they convene in January.

"We have five months to stop this .... We can," Magers said.

Magers said she was encouraged by a trip she and other members took around the state, finding support in places where you might not expect. Magers was featured on Reka Basu's web TV program and her tireless work has been recognized by the Des Moines Register.

"Be open-minded, Republicans are on board, too... So don't make any assumptions."  Contact Jane at jemsun@juno.com. Note: In support of the coalition to prevent S.F. 390 Physicians for Social Responsibility, Iowa chapter, has been running advertisements on Ed Fallon's radio show (Monday thru Thursdays 7-8 PM on 98.3 WOW-FM) saying that Iowa taxpayers should not be giving huge money to Mid-American to build a nuclear plant, and to oppose S F 390)  e-mail your IA State Senator, first.last@legis.state.ia.us  (first and last name separated by period).

Carol Grant of Iowa Sister States described the meetings this week of the political delegation coming from Des Moines' sister state Yamanashi, and improvements on the grounds surrounding the Japanese Bell.

Jan Burns of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom read the story of the Japanese Bell, a nod to the special relationship the people of Iowa have with the people of Japan.

And after the singing from the Button-Harrison family the crowd placed flowers and rang the Japanese Bell ---aspiring for a day when nuclear weapons go extinct.

Sponsors of 'From Hiroshima to Fukashima included  the Catholic Peace Ministry, American Friends Service Committee, Women’s Int’l League for Peace and Freedom, Veterans for Peace, Des Moines Chapter, Methodist Federation for Social Action, Des Moines Ecumenical Committee for Peace, STARPAC, the Iowa Peace Network, the Catholic Worker Berrigan House , Physicians for Social Responsibility- IA/KC, Plymouth UCC Peace Committee, Iowans for Diplomacy with Iran, Des Moines Area Sisters of Humility, Leadership Team of the DSM Sisters Council, Progressive Coalition of Central Iowa, Des Moines Area Religious Council, United Nations Association of IA, Friends of Des Moines Human Rights Commission, Dr. David E.Drake, Family Psychiatry, The Chinese Association of Iowa

(Filed by Jeffrey J. Weiss, Director of Catholic Peace Ministry, http://www.catholicpeaceministry.org.)