Rally noting Nagasaki atomic bombing anniversary
by Gene Beley, CVBT Correspondent

August 14, 2016 9:03pm
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•  Shuts down three of four gates at Lawrence Livermore Lab

•  “They were burned and just kept begging everywhere for water”


The United States has an estimated 7,100 nuclear weapons, according to the Arms Control Association. Russia has about 7,700 and there are another 993 held by eight other counties.

But the more than 100 protestors sitting in front of the gates of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory earlier this month were there both to protest that atomic weaponry – include the Lab’s involvement in its development -- and to remember those killed in Nagasaki, Japan, in August 1945 when the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on that city.

The destruction and death there and in Hiroshima, hit by a U.S. atomic bomb a few days earlier, forced Japan to surrender, avoiding a possible U.S. invasion.

At the Livermore rally last week, Rev. Nobuaki Hanaoka told how he was an infant survivor in the bombing of Nagasaki 71 years earlier. Later, a woman told her survivor mother’s story for her. “She is still alive today but she would never come to something like this because the Japanese people don’t talk about this. It would be horrifying to her,” she said.

Daniel Ellsberg, who helped release in 1967 the “Pentagon Papers,” a secret Defense Department history of the U.S. involvement in Vietnam, was the keynote speaker for the morning and later was one of 45 who were arrested at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory gates.

Mr. Ellsberg used his time to say he thanks Donald Trump for getting the nuclear issue on the front page of major newspapers like the New York Times. He added that when Chris Mathews, host of the cable TV show “Hardball,’ asked Mr. Trump if he would take the nuclear option off the table, the Republican presidential nominee’s answer was that he didn’t want to take everything off the table.

After a long dialogue of reading Mathews questions and answers in that interview, Mr. Ellsberg said he doesn’t believe Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton would answer the question any differently. He added this relying on nuclear threats has been the U.S. policy for 70 years.

President Barack Obama has come the closest to saying the U.S. will not initiate nuclear war under any circumstances whatever, Mr. Ellsberg said, adding that he holds out hope that Mr. Obama might utter those words with the little time he has left in office this year to be on record that one president did say it.

“Trump had nothing to do with it,” Mr. Ellsberg said. “Each president is compliant in carrying forward that policy. It has got to change. Let it start here, now.”

After many long speeches were given at the busy intersection of Vasco Road and Patterson Pass Road near the Laboratory, more than 100 people marched about three-quarters of a mile on a sidewalk to the lab, carrying protest signs urging the banishment of nuclear weapons. Then Hopi Indian tribe members and others provided background drumbeats and chanting. A Japanese woman led a symbolic dance to push back the nuclear arms race.

Marylia Kelley, executive director of the Tri-Valley Communities Against a Radioactive Environment, the sponsor of the annual event, said they had successfully shut down three out of four of the Livermore Labs entry gates.

A mock bombing in front of the Livermore Labs West Gate was staged with portable sirens signifying for the rally participants to drop to the ground symbolizing being hit by a nuclear bomb. People of all ages and nationalities had their bodies chalked around them like a crime scene on TV.

Livermore Labs’ Protective Force officers in full riot gear were standing at attention behind the gates and Livermore Police Department officers were seen on motorcycles across the street from the gates. Several plain clothes Livermore Lab undercover officers under shade trees were outside of the gates observing the crowd.

They stuck out like aliens in the crowd of mostly aging graduates from the 1960s Vietnam War protests. One singer was singing the Pete Seeger song, “Last night I had the strangest dream:

“Last night I had the strangest dream

I ever dreamed before

I dreamed the world had all agreed

To put an end to war

I dreamed I saw a mighty room

The room was filled with men

And the paper they were signing said

They'd never fight again

And when the papers all were signed

And a million copies made

They all joined hands end bowed their heeds

And grateful prayers were prayed

And the people in the streets below

Were dancing…”

Soon the officers rolled the West Gate open. They gently lifted their prisoners’ arms and escorted the grandpas and grandmas through the opened security gate into the processing center for their arrests for refusing to leave the U.S. government owned facility in what has become an annual ritual of sorts.

Although the celebrity guest speaker, Daniel Ellsberg helped to draw a big crowd that morning, Rev. Nobuaki Hanaoka and the woman whose mother was also a survivor, seemed to have more emotional impact.

A daughter of a survivor tells her mother’s story

Margaret Lowry from the Bay Area gave a short talk that said her mother was 11 years old when she survived the Nagasaki atomic bomb. “When it happened, she tried to get into the city and said everything was just a blast. It was heat like when you go near a BBQ pit. She said there was just no way you could go around it. People were just lying all over. She said people had blisters all over their bodies that looked like potatoes.

“And they ate a lot of potatoes because people were starving.

“When the blast happened, my mother’s whole house went down. She was underneath the house. She saw stars. When she was walking around, people were just begging for water. They didn’t have any water. They were burned and just kept begging everywhere for water.

“So one thing they do at ceremonies for Nagasaki and Hiroshima bomb survivors is they give people water. So it is very significant that your friends here are walking up to you while you’re lying on the ground to give you water, because that’s what they wanted—water.”

Rev. Hanaoka speaks

“Nuclear bombs are designed to wipe out large population centers,” Rev. Nobuaki Hanaoka, an infant at the Nagasaki bombing, told the rally audience. “The invisible radiation will keep killing millions more all around the globe. In 2011 the earthquake and tsunami damaged the nuclear power plants in Hiroshima, Japan. Five years later over 100,000 people are not allowed to go home because parts of Hiroshima are still contaminated with high levels of radiation despite their decontamination efforts.

“The nuclear weapon kills indiscriminately. It kills soldiers and civilians, children and adults, men and women, saints and sinners. Afterwards, it keeps killing slowly for many years. It is the most insidious, most inhumane, most immoral weapon of all mass murder.

“The number may be dropping but they are modernized and much more deadly. Their delivery systems are more accurate and more efficient due to cutting edge technology right here at the Lawrence Livermore Nuclear Labs.

“Let us renew our commitment never to allow the use of such inhumane, immoral, criminal weapons of indiscriminate killing.”


Rev. Nobuaki Hanaoka, Atomic bomb survivor at Nagasaki, addresses 2016 Livermore Rally

Rev. Nobuaki Hanaoka, Atomic bomb survivor at Nagasaki, addresses 2016 Livermore Rally from Gene Beley on Vimeo.


Daughter of Nagasaki survivor, Margaret Lowry, tells her mother’s experience on the day the bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan

Daughter of Nagasaki survivor, Margaret Lowry, tells her mother's experience on the day the bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan from Gene Beley on Vimeo.


Daniel Ellsberg keynote speaker at Livermore Labs Rally on 71s Anniversary of Nagasaki atomic bomb

Daniel Ellsberg keynote speaker at Livermore Labs Rally on 71s Anniversary of Nagasaki atomic bomb from Gene Beley on Vimeo.

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