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Remembering Hiroshima Day – August 6, 77 years ago.

August 6, 2022

Remember the victims of the first atom bomb attack on humans in Hiroshima. Hiroshima Memorial. August, 1987

A couple of days ago, while in northern Colorado (Windsor) I spoke with my friend Chester McQueary. We talked about what some of us “old folk” – he in is mid 80s, me in my late 70s – can do to reignite the movement against preparing for nuclear war. We had some ideas – Chester always does – that we hope to follow up on. Today on social media, a couple of friends posted “reminders” of what happened on this day when a mushroom cloud producing explosion killed several hundred thousand people in a flash, creating terror and pain for millions in the years that followed, a long term danger for world peace in what was an unnecessary finale to World War II. The United States dropped a nuclear bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima.

Today, August 6, 2022, is Hiroshima Day. I’m a little bit saddened that, to my knowledge, there are no commemorations in Colorado but I will find a way to mark it all the same (including this post), to think about it, about what happened on this day 77 years ago and what happened three days later in Nagasaki, to think about the $ trillion dollar plus funding to modernize and expand the U.S. nuclear arsenal. In my last years of teaching, I used to take foreign students, many of them Asian, up to Standley Lake (“it looks so beautiful, this couldn’t be polluted” they would say of a lake, the mud of which, contains plutonium and other nuclear contaminants) and then for a ride around the grounds of what used to be the Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant. Both look so pristine, innocuous, hiding the hundreds of thousands years danger of nuclear contamination in their grounds and streams just 16 miles from downtown Denver.

Humanity is caught in crises of its own making in large measure.

Climate change and the risks of nuclear war are the two greatest threats to us humans – and to all living things. We humans contributed greatly to exacerbating the climate crisis – it is possible the situation might have deteriorated anyway but not with the breathtaking speed with which “we” helped it along. As for the danger of nuclear war, that is completely human made. During the Cold War – Cold War 1 – there was at least an awareness of the dangers and a global movement, particularly pronounced and “creative” (it was) here in Colorado (Rocky Flats) to alerted people to the danger. Today? While the danger of the climate crisis has grown, the danger of nuclear war has receded as if it were something of the past not to be concerned with. Who besides a few old times who encircled Rocky Flats – all 17,000 of us – think about it, worry about it? A silent killer, those radioactive substances are – can’t see them, can you? And therefore fools believe that it doesn’t exist. Go to Standley Lake (that Kristen Iversen writes about, or the Candelas housing project on the southern end of what used to be the Rocky Flats property where developers and contractors continue on their merry way to make short term profits on land that is polluted with plutonium traces. And with the housing shortage here in Colorado, people blithely buy homes there, signing a waiver I am told that they will not sue the developers and contractors if their dear one contract some rare form of cancer…

Colorado is nuclear target in any conflict that might reach that “unthinkable” point, which unfortunately some in places like the RAND Corporation, in the U.S. military, are thinking about.

In the northeast corner of the state, a thinly populated part of the high plains between Grover and Crook, sit 49 Minuteman III missiles The Minuteman III has a length of 59.9 ft (18.3 m), weighs 79,432 lb (36,030 kg), an operational range of 14,000 km (8,700 mi), and an accuracy of about 800 ft (240 m). Although there are fewer warheads on these missiles, whos sites are sprinkled among Wyoming, Nebraska, the Dakotas, still there are some 450 missiles armed with nuclear warheads throughout the system, many in Colorado. Besides the Air Force Academy just north of the city, Colorado Springs hosts the Cheyenne Mountain Complex, a vast underground system for fighting nuclear war. Although the Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Facility 13 miles northwest of the Denver metropolitan areas which used to produce plutonium triggers for nuclear weapons was shut down in in 1989, its “legacy” remains with allegations of plutonium contamination in the soil and streams running through the plant grounds. 

We’ve got our fair amount of Dr. Strangeloves, Edward Teller clones these days who have not only blurred the distinction between nuclear and conventional weaponry but who openly advocated for going the nuclear war route. The recent U.S. proxy war in Ukraine which Washington and its NATO allies are losing, using Ukrainians – military and civilians alike – as cannon fodder has a nuclear connection. It is not that this war will morph into a nuclear confrontation. I have serious doubts about that. The threat is a little different. What the (non) thinkers in Washington are learning is from their Ukraine debacle – to be followed by a China -Taiwan debacle – is that despite all its huffing and puffing, its high tech weaponry that both the U.S and NATO are not prepared for and cannot fight and win a conventional war against an adversary like Russia. Take away the hype, the media and government lies about how Russia is losing that war and what is Washington left with? If it cannot win a conventional, proxy war against Russia (and/or China) it only strengthens the argument for playing the only card it has left in its sorry deck: going nuclear. Can’t win a conventional war – even against nations in the global south (Vietnam, Afghanistan) to say nothing about more industrialized countries like Russia and China, simple! Drop the big one! – or a hundred of them.

In the summer of 1987, I had the good fortune to attend the Conference for the Elimination of All Nuclear Weapons which took place in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Hiroshima City. Thirty-five years ago. A memorable experience. For years I dreamed about “the shadow”, the remains of what was a human being whose image was burnt into the cement of a stoop of stairs when the bomb exploded, vaporizing what had been a human being.

Finally, for those willing to look, there is plenty of material on the dangers of nuclear war, some of it dated (but accurate); there are more recent studies as well. One recommendation today. If you can find it get ahold of Shohei Imamura’s magnificent anti-nuclear and anti-war-in-general film “Black Rain”. (There is another film with the same title starring Michael Douglas, it is NOT that one). There is also a book somewhere out there with the same title on which the film was made.

2015 – an event commemorating Hiroshima. Denver, Colorado

3 Comments leave one →
  1. William Watts permalink
    August 6, 2022 9:23 am

    Like it. There is a weekly peace bantering every Thursday in front of the capital. Sr. Pat McCormick participates. This week they held signs about Hiroshima. I think I was at wherever your photo was from. At least I recognize some of the people .

  2. Tom Moore permalink
    August 6, 2022 9:24 am

    Thanks Rob!
    OTHERS–>PLEASE push out senators to work to ratify the Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons
    last.senate.gov. 1-866-338-1015. Hickenlooper 202-224-5941. Bennet 202-224-5852

    • August 6, 2022 9:39 am

      Appreciate the way you are so damned concrete!!! will contact my mindless piece of shit Senator Hickenlooper and you’ve-been-in-office-too-long Diana De Gette today on this…

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