Published: 08/07/2022 21:45:51
Modified: 08/07/2022 21:42:34
GREENFIELD – The message of peace was evident on Greenfield Common on Saturday, as around 30 people attended a vigil recognizing the 77th anniversary of the US atomic bombings of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6-9, 1945.
The Cambridge-based organization Massachusetts Peace Action held memorial events in 12 cities and towns across the state. The Massachusetts branch is affiliated with Peace Action, the largest national membership organization for peace and disarmament, with more than 100,000 members and 30 chapters across the United States.
Some of the Greenfield Vigil attendees meet weekly on the township to plead for peace. One such participant is Greenfield resident Garrett Connelly.
“It may get busier today, but it’s not a different feeling than other weekends,” Connelly said. “The need for peace is the same.”
The two bombings, which led to Japan’s unconditional surrender in World War II, immediately killed an estimated 120,000 people, while tens of thousands more would later die from radiation exposure.
In addition to the regulars, a group from the New England Peace Pagoda in Leverett attends the Hiroshima and Nagasaki Memorial Vigil each year. About five people from the Peace Pagoda came holding drums and singing for peace. This group led a march on Sunday from Holyoke to Easthampton, also in remembrance of the bombings.
“The only way to get peace is to stay here and educate others,” said Peace Pagoda resident Tim Bullock.
The Peace Pagoda movement began in reaction to the atomic bombs dropped on Japan, so Saturday’s event hit close to home for Leverett Temple attendees.
“We are here because our mission is to abolish nuclear war and to denounce war to create a sustainable world,” Bullock said.
Also present were members of the Western Massachusetts Raging Grannies. This organization has chapters in Canada and America, bringing older women together to sing political parodies of classic songs. Saturday’s music focused on nuclear weapons.
“We want to make sure our next generation has a future,” said Raging Grannies member Sally Chaffee.
After the remembrance on the commune was completed, participants in the weekly vigil traveled across the street to the LAVA Center at 324 Main Street, where they are featured in a free multimedia exhibit titled ” Why I Stand” which takes place this month. “Why I Stand” is hosted by Pat Hynes, director of the Greenfield-based Traprock Center for Peace and Justice.
In September 2002, Conway resident Mary McClintock was one of four women who came to Greenfield Common to advocate for peace before the war in Iraq began. Since then, every Saturday, in almost any weather, citizens have made this central Franklin County public space a place for messages related to peace, racial justice and more. The LAVA Center exhibit features photos and statements from frequent attendees.
The gallery is open Thursday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information, visit localaccess.org/art/why-i-stand.
Contact Bella Levavi at 413-930-4579 or [email protected]