The 28th annual Hiroshima peace ceremony to commemorate the 72nd anniversary of the 1945 bombing of Hiroshima was held on Aug. 7 at the peace bell fronting Izumo Taishakyo Mission of Hawaii.
The bell is a replica of the one in Hiroshima’s Peace Park. It was presented to the City and County of Honolulu by the Hiroshima Prefectural Government in 1985 to recognize the longstanding relationship between Honolulu and Hiroshima, which established a sister-city relationship in 1959. The bell was dedicated in 1990 and placed next to Izumo Taisha Shinto shrine. Since then, a commemoration and peace service has been held annually at the site.
Bishop Daiya Amano of the Izumo Taishakyo Mission presided over the service. He purified and blessed the bell as well as those in attendance.
Rev. Takamasa Yamamura of the Honolulu Myohoji Buddhist Temple presented a musical prayer in “Ave Maria.” Edwin Hawkins spoke on behalf of the City and County of Honolulu. Greetings and messages were offered by Bishop Eric Matsumoto of the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii, who shared a Buddhist message; Dr. Gregg Kinkley of the Congregation of Sov Ma’arav, who delivered a Jewish message; and Dr. Kahu Kaleo Patterson of the Pacific Justice & Reconciliation Center, who shared a Christian message.
Retired Punahou School Japanese language teacher Hiromi Peterson, who was born in Hiroshima after the war, spoke on the topic, “Let’s Become Peace Builders.” Peterson’s parents and older siblings experienced the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and suffered health issues as a result of radiation exposure. She said she shares the concerns of others who want to abolish nuclear weapons and reduce nuclear arsenals and has decided to become a peace builder.
As a teacher, she said she felt that “students should see history with their own eyes” and “learn the importance of peace and become young peace builders.” Peterson published a Japanese textbook for students. She included information on the damage caused by the atomic bomb and about promoting peace. With proceeds from the book, she established a fund and, in 2009, began sending two high school students and one teacher to Hiroshima to learn more about peace.
Kai Uyehara, a past participant in the YMCA of Honolulu’s “Let’s Get Together” program, spoke about his experiences in Japan and about visiting the Hiroshima Peace Park. The Let’s Get Together program was started in 1960 when then-mayors Neal Blaisdell of Honolulu and Shinzo Hamai of Hiroshima met to strengthen international understanding and friendship. Their vow to work for peace led to a sister-city relationship. The student exchange began in 1961 when the first group of teens from Hiroshima visited Honolulu.
The ceremony concluded with the singing of “Let There Be Peace on Earth” and the ringing of the peace bell by those in attendance.