Sixty-Two Years of Remembering Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the Road Towards Peace


Nagasaki delebation visits Minnesota for 62nd commemoration of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The 62nd commemorations of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were special this year. They were held the week of August 5 from Sunday to Friday at the Lyndale Park Peace Garden, Lake Harriet, Minneapolis, the Global Harmony Labyrinth, Como Park, Saint Paul and Midway Stadium, the home of the Saint Paul Saints baseball team.

The two most important days observed were the days and times the bomb was dropped on both cities in 1945 – August 6, 7:30 in the morning (Hiroshima) and August 9, 11:02 in the morning (Nagasaki).

Kathleen Olsen and Bret Hesla of Bread opened the Lyndale Park Peace Garden ceremony in song August 6. The main speaker of the day was United States Representative Keith Ellison. The Kairos Intergenerational Dance Theatre closed the event by dancing at the garden’s Spirit of Peace Garden. That evening at 7:30, a concert for Peace was held at the Lake Harriet Bandshell.

The Lyndale Park Peace Garden was also the site, Sunday afternoon, August 5 for a Women in Black (part of the Women International League for Peace and Freedom) Procession for Peace from 40th and Bryant, Minneapolis into the garden. There also were in the afternoon, story telling, crane folding and peace songs at the Spirit of Peace Sculpture. The day ended with a Commemorative Tea Ceremony.

A good size delegation came from Nagasaki for the Commemoration, August 9 including six Jushin High School student singers and their teacher and director, Yuko Matsumoto, Sister Yuko Hanada, head of Junshin Woman College’s English Department and Nagasaki-Saint Paul Sister Committee (the Nagasaki counterpart to the Saint Paul-Nagasaki Sister City Committee (SPNSCC) board member City Fumiko Yamaguchi.

The Como Park Global Harmony Labyrinth was opened in 2005, the 50th anniversary year of the Saint Paul-Nagasaki Sister City Committee (SPNSCC). It was designed by former SPNSCC board member Cyndy McKeen and dedicated to long time SPNSCC member Karen Kunzman – “She had a Japanese Heart.” Ms. Kunzman passed away from cancer in 2002.

It was a beautiful summer day to hold the commemoration on the Labyrinth. SPNSCC Treasure Larry Rossow nicely held the program together as Emcee. Ms. Yamaguchi read a letter from Mayor Tomihisa Taue and messages from Nagasaki citizens to the citizens of Saint Paul.

Mayor Taue thanked Mayor Chris Coleman and the citizens of Saint Paul for their letters of condolences on the tragic death of Mayor Iccho Itoh. He passed away, wrote Mayor Taue, without achieving his life ambitions and was working hard for the Saint Paul and Nagasaki sister city relationship. In that relationship, Mayor Taue, continued, people in Saint Paul and Nagasaki have contributed much to achieve world peace for over a half a century. The messages from Nagasaki citizens were warm as they talked about the relationship and offered prayers for the victims of the 35W bridge collapse.
Sister Hamada gave a reading on the songs the Jushin High School singers were going to sing and introduced them to the audience. The translation for the songs, “A Burning Sacrifice” and “A Thousand Paper Cranes” were in the program so people could understand what was being sung. But that might have been unnecessary as the strength, clearness and expression in their voices told the story quite well.

Next SPNSCC President Chris Rossow dramatically read the English translation of the Japanese book “Ano Natsu no Hi” (“On that Summer Day”). The book describes Nagasaki on that clear sunny day in 1945 when the city was changed at 11:02 in the morning, never to be the same again.

At 11:02, August 9, this year, at Global Harmony Labyrinth, SPNSCC volunteer Jymie Anderson rang a bell to indicate a moment of silence. At 11:03 she rang it again and invited people to walk the labyrinth “for peace.”

The next night, the SPNSCC and the Nagasaki delegation took in a Saint Paul Saints baseball game at Midway Stadium and were happy to be welcomed and see their name on the Saints’ giant field TV screen.

Now, this may seem strange to be part of a somber commemoration event, but not really. Last October the Saints played five exhibition games in Japan. In Nagasaki they played a Fukuoka team, as Nagasaki did not have a team. Now there is talk of having a Nagasaki Saints baseball team, named after their sister city’s baseball team — a key step to understanding that we are more alike than different and that understanding leads to peace. As Mayor Taue, wrote, Saint Paul and Nagasaki have contributed much to achieve world peace for over half a century.