Quaker Heritage Center Hosts 'Evening of Peace' on Hiroshima Anniversary

Twilight Lantern Launch is Highlight of Event

August 7, 2012

(ABOVE) Jim Boland, director of the Peace Resource Center, launches a lantern into the sky. (BELOW) Some of the guests view the lanterns ascending into the twilight. (Photos by Daniel J. Kasztelan)

(ABOVE) Jim Boland, director of the Peace Resource Center, launches a lantern into the sky. (BELOW) Some of the guests view the lanterns ascending into the twilight. (Photos by Daniel J. Kasztelan)

While the reason for gathering together was to remember victims of violence, the spirits of those present on this brilliant summer evening (Aug. 6) afforded a true “Evening for Peace."

”The $35/plate dinner at the General Denver and dessert reception at the Meriam R. Hare Quaker Heritage Center provided a backdrop for remembering the quarter million victims of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945.

A highlight of the evening was a traditional Japanese floating lantern ceremony at twilight in which hot-air fueled lanterns ascended into the sky outside the Quaker Heritage Center.

Daniel J. Kasztelan, campus minister, read the following at the event:

“We’re gathered together this evening with each other, under the good spirit that our gathering raises, and in the presence of the mysterious power of the cosmos within which our lives have their meaning and purpose: here under the presence of this motion of power and love, we gather to remember what we wish we could forget: the deaths, by atomic bombing, of 150,ooo–250,00 civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, on August 6 and August 9, 1945.

“We gather to remember what we hope will never happen again, what we pray will happen never again, what we work to prevent from happening. Although, if we take history as our precedent, we will likely be discouraged. Because, after all, what distinguishes these deaths from the million people who died in Jerusalem at the hands of the Romans in the first century, or from the 70 million in central Asia who died in the total warfare of Genghis Khan in the 14th century, or from the hundreds of American Indians deliberately wiped out by the British with smallpox-infected blankets during the French and Indian War, or from the 11 million Europeans who died in the concentration camps of the Third Reich, or from the million Armenians killed by the Turks, or the 2 million Cambodians murdered by the Khmer Rouge, or the 7000 Palestinians killed by the nation of Israel since the year 2000?

“What distinguishes these deaths except the fact that our nation was responsible for them, and the rapidity with which the living died? 70,000 persons, in moments; 40,000, in moments.

“But there is something about the speed of these deaths, and their finality, and the bombs’ complete lack of discrimination between the innocent and the guilty that gets our attention: there is something that gets our attention in the impossibility of turning back catastrophe once a single bomb is dropped. There is something that gets our attention about a decision so final there is no re-thinking it, no lessening it, no waiting, even, for an answer. All that finality in one instant: that makes these deaths different. And so we remember them. The fact that we remember them also makes them different.

“And we are not the only ones remembering. All over the world today, people remember. We don’t remember the Romans, or the hordes of Genghis Khan; we don’t remember Ft. Pitt or Dresden. But we remember the horror of what happens when you attack a country with an atomic weapon.

“This is a sign of hope to me, that we stand here, that we remember. We grieve, but the lanterns we light both commemorate a horror and convey a sign of hope. All over the world today, tonight, people gather to remember these deaths, and commit themselves to make sure nothing like them ever happens again. Commit themselves to seek peace, and to ask for diplomacy. Commit themselves to a world of friendship, rather than a world of fear.”