Friday, August 6, 2010

U.S. Attends Hiroshima Ceremony

The United States ambassador participated for the first time on Friday in an annual ceremony to mark the anniversary of the atomic bombing here in World War II, raising hopes that President Obama may soon follow. With the mournful gonging of a Buddhist temple bell and the release of doves, a crowd of 55,000 solemnly marked the moment 65 years ago when the world’s first atomic attack incinerated this city under a towering mushroom cloud. During the ceremony, Hiroshima’s mayor welcomed the ambassador, John Roos, and praised President Obama as one of the world leaders who “wielded their powerful influence” to rid the world of nuclear weapons.

During the solemn ceremony at the city’s peace park within sight of the iconic Atomic Bomb Dome, other speakers also praised Mr. Obama’s call last year in Prague for a denuclearized world.
“We greet this August 6 with re-energized determination that no one else should ever have to suffer such horror,” said the mayor, Tadatoshi Akiba. “Clearly, the urgency of nuclear weapons abolition is permeating our global conscience.”

Mr. Roos did not speak at the ceremony, which included a minute of silence at 8:15, the moment the bomb detonated on a Sunday morning in 1945, killing more than 140,000 residents. In a statement issued by the American Embassy, Mr. Roos said, “we must continue to work together to realize a world without nuclear weapons.” While no one mentioned it during the ceremony, city officials have said they hoped Mr. Roos’s attendance would serve as a step toward a future visit by President Obama to Hiroshima, which along with Nagasaki has become a symbol of the horrors of nuclear war.

Mr. Akiba also praised the ambassadors of Britain and France and also the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, all of whom also attended the ceremony for first time. It is time to move from “ground zero to global zero,” Mr. Ban said in a speech, referring to the elimination of nuclear weapons. “For many of you, that day endures as vivid as the white light that seared the sky, as dark as the black rain that followed.”


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