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The Hiroshima Peace Day Observance has been a public event sponsored by Gila Friends Meeting (Quaker) for more than three decades. It would have been held at Gough Park at 12:30 p.m. this coming Sunday, August 9. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Friends have decided not to hold the observance in person this year, but urge the public to recognize the continuing horror of atomic weapons.

August 9 is the 75th anniversary of the date the United States detonated an atomic bomb over the city of Nagasaki, Japan, at 11:02 on a Thursday morning. More than 70,000 people died immediately, more died later from radiation-induced illnesses.

Three days earlier, at 8:15 on Monday morning, August 6, the U.S. detonated the first nuclear device ever used in warfare at Hiroshima, Japan. The death toll there may have been as high as 200,000 people.

An American report after the bombings said Nagasaki looked "like a graveyard with not a tombstone standing." The devastation was total, as was the indiscriminate killing and wounding of military and civilian personnel within the area affected by the blasts.

The United States and other nations engaged in another quarter-century of a nuclear arms race. World acknowledgement of the unconscionable horror posed by atomic weapons led to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, which went into effect in 1970. A Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty was signed by the U.S. and most other nations in 1996; it is not in force because the U.S. and several other nations have not ratified it.

The world's nuclear arsenal reached a peak of more than 64,000 nuclear warheads in 1986. Today, that number has been reduced to about 13,720, with 3,720 deployed - ready to use! All are many times more powerful than the bombs dropped on Japan. The U.S. spends billions annually to maintain and upgrade its nuclear arsenal.

Gila Friends Meeting carries on the Hiroshima Peace Day Observance in spirit, despite not being able to gather in person, as part of its commitment that nuclear weapons should never again be used. Rather, Friends encourage the U.S. and other nations to renew their efforts to achieve one of the goals stated 50 years ago in the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons: "... to pursue nuclear disarmament aimed at the ultimate elimination of their nuclear arsenals."

Tom Vaughan
Silver City