DES MOINES CROWD OBSERVES HIROSHIMA AND NAGASAKI  -- SEVENTY CALL FOR ZERO NUKES AND FOR THE SUPPORT OF START II

By Jeffrey Weiss, Executive Director of Catholic Peace Ministry (CPM)

A crowd of 70 people, representing 20 organizations including CPM and AFSC, assembled at the Japanese Bell on the Iowa State Capitol grounds on August 9, 2010 to observe the 65th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The theme this year was "From Hiroshima to a World Free of Nuclear Weapons."

The featured speaker of the event was Dr. Sorrel Brown, the President of the board of directors of Iowa Sister States. (Iowa and Yamanashi Prefecture are sister states.) Brown told the story of "Sweet Corn and Sushi," a book sold by ISS as a fundraiser to restore the Japanese Bell.

Iowans airlifted hogs to Yamanashi after a typhoon destroyed the hog population in 1959. In the forward to the book, former Iowa First Lady Christie Vilsack writes that the people of Yamanashi celebrate "Iowa Day" every year.

"The point is," said Sorrel, "that the relationship between Iowa and Japan is an example of how hog diplomacy is more sane than nuclear bombs and a culture of death."

Megan Hart of Physicians for Social Responsibility distributed postcards asking Iowa Senators Charles Grassley and Tom Harkin to vote to ratify START II, expected to go before the full Senate before November elections.

"It is a small step in the right direction," explained Jeffrey J. Weiss of the Catholic Peace Ministry. Weiss emceed the event and noted that, for the first time in U.S. history, our government sent a representative to the Hiroshima observance. Jonathon Roos echoed the Obama Administration's call for a world without nuclear weapons.

Highway Sigadi, formerly of the Simon Estes Youth Choir and from Cape Town, South Africa, performed some traditional peace songs in Khosa, and Ann Naffier led the crowd in singing 'This is My Song' written by Lloyd Stone in 1934.

The evening concluded with the traditional laying of flowers and ringing of the Japanese Bell.