Community members gathered Saturday night at Stephens Lake Park to advocate for a nuclear-free future.

Mid-Missouri Peaceworks organized the event in memory of the lives lost during the atomic bombings that took place in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. This is the 34th consecutive year the event has taken place.

In the past, around 80 people came to the event, Mark Haim, the director of Mid-Missouri Peaceworks said. This year, around 40 people attended. 

Haim said the event's message is more important than how many people participate. He tried to make people realize the importance of taking action to eliminate future nuclear threats.

He condemned governments withdrawing from several nuclear-arms related treaties, including the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty and the Iran Nuclear Agreement.

"The government also invested much money into developing nuclear weapons. This will make our world more unstable and dangerous," he said.

Three members from the Mid-Missouri Peaceworks read testimonies from the victims of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki before Haim delivered his speech, which promoted sustainability, social justice and harmony.

Thirty lanterns were placed into the lake after the speech, lighting up the dark.

Putting lanterns in the river or lake has been a Japanese tradition in memory of death. Haim said the lanterns also delivered a hope for a peaceful, equal and sustainable future.

Mid-Missouri Peaceworks decided not to hold a potluck dinner and musical entertainment due to the COVID-19. Haim and his teammates also asked all participants wear masks and encouraged them to maintain social distancing.

Members of Mid-Missouri Peaceworks didn't have enough time to prepare lanterns for this year. Instead, members reused the wrap and decoration of lanterns from last year.

This event also included voices from Asia.  

Seungkwan You, Director of Global Leadership and Asian Scholar programs, was invited to speak at the gathering.

He referred to the history of Korean comfort women and labor workers in 1910 to 1945, condemning harm to innocent people. He also reflected on current issues, pointing out discrimination and hostility in the society.

You also criticized the ethnocentrism throughout the world and the ways people look down on others for being different.

"We are different, but we are all human beings," he said.

There were not many young adults coming to this event. Steve Meyerhardt, a peace activist who has come to the event for the last 15 years, said young people may be busy with other things.

"They are busy with their work and study. When they have time, they will just go to have fun and decide not to attend this sort of event," he said.

"I can still remember how youth were active in Vietnam protest and youth used to be idealistic. Time has changed," Meyerhardt said.

  • General Assignment Reporter, summer 2020 Studying convergence journalism Reach me at clivia.liang@mail.missouri.edu, or in the newsroom at 882-5720.

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