Yesterday, the Los Angeles Area Disarmament Coalition held an event to commemorate the 64th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The event began with a service at the Higashi Honganji Buddhist Temple in Little Tokyo, which was followed by a “mindful walk” to City Hall. Many participants held umbrellas to symbolize their desire to be protected from radioactive fallout. Others held photographs of atomic bomb survivors.
The mindful walkers made their way through the streets of Los Angeles towards City Hall, following a kindly monk named Sande Simpson, as pedestrians and motorists alike honked, waved and smiled in kind affirmation of this peaceful protest of the ever-hanging threat that nuclear weapons pose to our planet. Upon arriving at the south side of City Hall, the music of Tapai Correll filled the air with songs of hope.
Dr. Jimmy Hara, a board member of Physicians for Social Responsibility – Los Angeles, emceed the event. The group shared in a 1985 Nobel Peace Prize with International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War “for spreading authoritative information and by creating an awareness of the catastrophic consequences of atomic warfare.” Dr. Hara was born in an internment camp for Japanese-Americans during World War II, and born to be a peace activist. He and his family marched from LA to Washington DC as part of the great peace march in 1986. Dr. Hara is the Family Medicine Residency Director at the Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center and also serves as the Co-Director of the Schweitzer Fellowship’s Los Angeles Fellows Program. Hara is the recipient of numerous awards, most recently the Medical Board of California’s 2008 Physician Humanitarian Award.
Other speakers included the ACLU’s Steve Rhode, congressional candidate Marcy Winograd, comparative religions scholar Reza Aslan, perennial progressive stalwart Rabbi Freehling, and a promising young man keen on abolishing nuclear weapons, Arin Ghosh. A number of the speakers noted that President Barack Obama pledged earlier this year in Prague to lead the way to rid the world of the terror of nuclear weapons.
Notable attendees included our very own Denise Anne Duffield, who is Associate Director of PSR-LA. Also attending was Dr. Jose Quiroga, a board member of PSR-LA and the Co-Founder and Medical Director of the Program for Torture Victims, and PSR-LA Ambassador Dr. Farideh Kiouhmer, Founder and Executive Director of the International Health and Epidemiology Research Center.
Longtime PSR member Jeanne Londe attended, wearing a classic PSR-LA shirt from the 1980’s. Jeanne’s late husband, Sol, is the man who first made PSR-LA aware of contamination problems at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory, aka Rocketdyne, which led to the group’s involvement in getting that 2,850-acre site cleaned up. It was PSR-LA that first made this reporter aware of the Rocketdyne issue in early 1998 and was key in the environmental victory that led to the creation of the Upper Las Virgenes Open Space Preserve, aka Ahmanson Ranch, in 2003.
These people walked the walk for you, me, our country and our planet. Even this hard-boiled reporter was repeatedly moved by the words of these folks who put your well-being at the top of their agenda.