Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park: A Haunting Message Concerning the Survival of Humankind

crane  On August 6, 1945, three B-29 aircraft made their way over the Japanese port city of Hiroshima, dropping an atomic weapon named “Little Boy” that lethally claimed between 90,000 and 166,000 lives. Three days later, a second explosion codenamed “Fat Man” occurred over the city of Nagasaki, taking an additional 60,000 to 80,000 lives – thereby expending the complete arsenal of atomic ordnance available to the United States at the time, although a third bomb could have hastily been constructed for a third mission. The results of these explosions are horrific and stand as a warning to the modern world of what could happen should terrorists ever achieve the capability of detonating such a device in a major metropolitan area. Such an eventuality would make the events of 911 pale in comparison, in that way making terrorism one of the gravest threats to the survival of the human race. In deep recognition of this menace, the city of Hiroshima has unswervingly promoted and maintained the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park since 1950 – gradually adding to its meaningful symbolism as the years have unfolded and moved forward. Hiroshima is also one of the most vocal proponents of world peace and the abolition of nuclear weapons.


The A-Bomb Dome

Situated at the location of what was once the city’s busiest downtown commercial area, the park consists of various memorials, museums and educational lecture halls – sprawled over the open field that was created by the atomic explosion itself. At the very center of the park is the Memorial Cenotaph, honoring the names of those known to have perished in the 1945 blast and bearing the nonpolitical epitaph “please rest in peace, for we will never repeat this evil again.” Not far from this epitaph, an eternal flame has burned since 1964, with no intention of extinguishment until all nuclear weapons in the world have been destroyed and the threat of nuclear warfare has vanished from human history. Another building that has taken on aspects of sacredness and transcendent spirituality to the citizens of Japan is the A-Bomb Dome, which was situated at the epicenter of the blast and still stands as a haunting ruin and reminder of the bomb’s impact on Japanese culture. In 1966, the city of Hiroshima adopted the resolution that the dome, also known as the Hiroshima Peace Memorial, should stand in its ruined state for eternity – as a reminder to the world of nuclear war’s potential impact on the future of the human race. Those wishing further education on the atomic bomb – and its destruction of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 – can visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, which routinely makes a point of protesting recent nuclear explosions by resetting the Museum’s Peace Watchtower to zero – as an indication that nuclear warfare is still very prevalent in the thoughts and actions of humankind.


The Children’s Peace Monument

Of poignant clarity to the deep philosophical message surrounding the park is the Children’s Peace Monument, which was dedicated in 1958 to the memory of Sadako Sasaki – a Japanese girl who contracted and died of leukemia as a result of the atomic blast. Sadako is remembered worldwide for her “thousand paper cranes,” and her story is immortalized in the bestselling book entitled Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes. In Japanese culture, the crane is a symbol of happiness and longevity – and many say that the gods will grant a wish to any person that folds a thousand origami cranes. Although Sadako was only able to fold 644 paper cranes before she died at the age of 11 from leukemia she contracted due to the atomic blast, her classmates took it upon themselves to fashion the remainder, with which she was lovingly buried. Funded through donations made by Japanese school children, the Children’s Peace Memorial features an elevated statue of Sadako Sasaki clutching a golden crane above her head. Inspired by her story, school children from around the world send millions of paper cranes to the monument each year, and they are prominently placed on display nearby as testimony to Sadako’s timeless popularity.


The Hiroshima Peace Bell

Every year on August 6, the citizens of Hiroshima recognize the anniversary of the atomic bombing with the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony, which takes place in front of the Memorial Cenotaph as an effort to appease the souls of those that died in the blast and to promote the abolition of nuclear weapons. At exactly 8:15am (the time of the explosion in 1945), school children and a representative of bereaved families call the world to a moment of silent meditation by ring the “Peace Bell.” The ceremony also includes a yearly Peace Declaration from the Mayor of Hiroshima, calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons and world peace – as well as the release of doves into the air and a commitment to peace by all the children of Hiroshima. A similar ceremony occurs on a yearly basis three days later in Nagasaki, as recognition of the explosion that took place over that city on August 9, 1945.

The threat of terrorists using a crude nuclear device is a very real possibility in the world today. In fact, such threats have been levied against countries like the United States since as early as 1987 – and the International Task Force on Prevention of Nuclear Terrorism issued a warning in 1986 that the “probability of nuclear terrorism is increasing.” Such concerns today would likely involve the use of “dirty bombs” or attacks on nuclear power facilities. Hence, the prayers offered at Hiroshima and Nagasaki on a yearly basis are indeed for the benefit of the human race. Be sure to view either of the very moving videos below, taken by 2 visitors to the park. The second is shorter than the first. As always, please sign the petition to which this website is dedicated by clicking on the following link.

You can help promote the establishment of a monument dedicated to all American victims of terrorism, whether they died at home or abroad, by clicking the link above and signing the petition. Nothing is asked but your signature for a good cause.

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Boston’s Garden of Peace Memorial

IbisThe Garden of Peace Memorial, located in Boston, Massachusetts, is essentially the result of efforts led by the late Paul R. Rober, Sr., who was looking for a way to memorialize the life of his murdered son, Paul R. Rober, Jr. A paraplegic by birth, Rober’s son was last seen alive at a Dunkin’ Donuts coffee shop on October 11, 1986, just shortly before he was beaten severely, strangled with a rope, and buried in a shallow grave that had been hastily dug in a heavily wooded area not too far from the point of his disappearance. Desperately seeking an avenue through which he could manage his grief, Rober was instrumental in the formation of the Boston chapter for Parents of Murdered Children (POMC), an organization first established in 1978 by Reverend Robert Hullinger and his wife, in response to the overwhelming sorrow they associated with the murder of their 19-year-old daughter, Lisa Hullinger. There are now over 60 chapters located across the United States, with a total membership of over 100,000 survivors. POMC is instrumental in providing “the on-going emotional support needed to help parents and other survivors facilitate the reconstruction of a ‘new life’ and to promote a healthy resolution” to the intense grieving process and legal dilemmas that are associated with the loss of a loved one through murder.


Various Aspects of the Garden of Peace Memorial
Photo credit: mgstanton / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Paul Rober, Sr., who passed away in 2002, became a vigorous promoter of non-violence, peace and the creation of a memorial that would honor the victims of murder – even gaining the notice of Massachusetts Governor William Weld in the process. Along the way, Rober met Beatrice Nessen, who assumed the leadership role when he passed away – forming the expansive coalition of homicide survivors, elected officials, interested business leaders, and victim service benefactors that brought the memorial to the point of reality. The Garden of Peace coalition turned to the Harvard Graduate School of Design when choosing the designer for their monument, selecting Catherine Melina – who was at that time a student in the program, but who has since achieved notoriety as a partner in the Melina/Hyland Design Group of Cambridge, Massachusetts. The end result came through a unique combination of politics, promotion, and community benevolence – eventually involving even the state legislature. In 2000, a bill called for the renovation of the Saltonstall State Office Building, to occur under the auspices of the Mass Development Finance Agency – which is now known as Mass Development. The bill demanded that the renovation include the Garden of Peace as part of the designs, but Mass Development went one step further and donated $200,000 toward the construction of Rober’s dream memorial.

Dedicated on September 24, 2004, the Garden of Peace Memorial is a plaza nestled between two buildings located on Somerset Street in Boston. Running through the middle of the plaza is a dry streambed – symbolizing an absence of life-giving water, and thereby indicating the heartrending loss in lives that has transpired through violence. Lining the streambed are stones that bear the names, birthday and date of death for each murdered victim to whom the memorial is dedicated. Each stone is unique in appearance, just as the life of each human being is inimitable in nature. The dry streambed emanates from a partially buried granite lens entitled “Tragic Density,” intended to denote the intense grief imbedded in the hearts of those who have lost a loved one to murder. The plaza also includes cascading water and a symbolic pool, from which a 17 foot high sculpture of three ibises rises toward the sky, transcending anguish, pain, grief, and anger. Entitled Ibis Ascending, this sculpture is the work of artist Judy Kensley McKie, a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design who lost her only son, Jesse, to an indiscriminate act of violence. She chose the ibis as the subject of her artwork due to its symbolic connection to healing and resurrection in Egyptian mythology. Replicas of the sculpture can be purchased through a donation of $1500 to the Garden of Peace. Likewise, the names of victims can be added to the memorial for the sum of $100, which is paid through an application process accessible at the website.


Click for Larger Graph

Between September of 2001 and September of 2011, approximately 30 U. S. citizens have died in terrorist incidents that took place within the geographic confines of the United States. During the same timeframe, roughly 116,000 U. S. citizens lost their lives in gun-related murders – and within that statistic, over 46,000 white Americans were murdered by other white Americans, thereby indicating that the issue of murder is not specific to non-white Americans. There is no question as to the need for non-violence and peace in the world when it comes to terrorism, but this peace needs to take hold within the geographic boundaries of the United States and permeate the very fabric of our society, which has grown far too violent. The Garden of Peace is a reminder of this fact, and it is an idea for commemoration that could easily be adapted to the recognition of those that have died in terrorist attacks – which are less numerous but of even graver concern for the future of the world. Terrorism reaches beyond the realm of murder into the insane darkness of international violence and intimidation that is conducted in the name of political and religious aims. Given that these intentions could likely include nuclear obliteration and genocide one day, the need for a monument that carries the same message as the Garden of Peace is obvious. Obvious, but unfortunately overlooked in the United States at this time – at least in the minds of those that support this website.

You can help promote the establishment of a monument dedicated to all American victims of terrorism, whether they died at home or abroad, by clicking the link above and signing the petition. Nothing is asked but your signature for a good cause.

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