By Jaime Fuller
It was in August of 1945, at the end of World War II, that the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan—the only time such weapons have been used on humans. Within months of those attacks, between 150,000 and 246,000 people died, most of them civilians. Victims still suffer from birth defects and cancers caused by the bombings.
Every year, commemorations around the world recall the memory of that bombing. The Corvallis branch of Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) will hold a memorial ceremony at Riverfront Park, followed by lanterns floating down the river in kayaks and canoes as a symbol of peace.
A primary mission of WILPF is to end war and all forms of violence through education, activism, and dialogue. The organization was founded in 1915 during World War I by Jane Addams, the first U.S. woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. “We’re following in her footsteps,” said Gretchen Newlin, member of the Corvallis branch, initiated in early 2014 by Leah Bolger, a local peace activist and OSU’s Linus Pauling and Ava Pauling Peace Lecturer of 2013.
Most people have the mindset that war has always been and always will be, but 150 years ago, people thought the same about slavery; racism was openly accepted just a few decades ago. “Diplomacy and respect for international law is what’s needed…and honesty,” said Newlin. “Above all else, we need desire for peace. In peace we can prosper.” In many ways, the world is a better place now than in the past because of caring, thoughtful people. WILPF believes it can become even better.
The Hiroshima and Nagasaki Commemoration will take place on Saturday, Aug. 9 from 7:30 p.m. until dusk at Riverfront Park on 1st Street and Madison Avenue.