Peace Ceremony in memory of the atomic tragedy in Hiroshima – why is it important?

Despite the pandemic, Volgograd residents managed to pay tribute to the people of our Japanese sister-city Hiroshima, who had perished 75 years ago in an atomic bombing – the first military usage of nuclear weapons in the human history. On August 6, 2020, the “Stalingrad Battle” panorama museum hosted a little Peace Ceremony.

Usually, it gathers about 50 people: school and university students, members of the Elderly People Club and “Volgograd – Hiroshima” Friendship Society, and other civic activists. However, due to the restrictions in the organization of public events, this year the number of its participants had to be cut short: among the few persons present were the Museum’s staff members, city officials, the Chair of Volgograd City Council Mr. Vladlen Kolesnikov and the Chair of the Volgograd branch of the Russian Peace Foundation Mr. Yury Starovatykh – an honorary citizen of Volgograd and Hiroshima.

At 08:15 sharp, the toll of the Peace Bell heralded a minute of silence. After it, the Memorial Ceremony participants delivered short speeches and laid flowers to the foot of the bell.

Why was this ceremony so important?

Let us be reminded that an atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, and on Nagasaki – on August 9, 1945. Later, these two cities would become the founders of the “Mayors for Peace” International Organization, which unites already 7,909 cities in 164 countries. Its main goal was to achieve complete nuclear disarmament all over the world – precisely by the year 2020.

For the founders of “Mayors for Peace”, it was not simply a big anniversary, but one of last years, when the results of their work can be still seen and appreciated by hibakushas – those who survived the bombings. These are the people who lived in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, who lost their relatives and friends, who struggled against the consequences of radiation and helped their cities to rise from the ruins. Although Japan has a reputation for being a country of superagers, the number of A-bomb witnesses is rapidly decreasing, and those who are still able to share their memory of the tragedy are over 80 years old. By taking part in Peace Memorial Ceremonies, reading about the fate of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, bowing our heads to the memory of the victims, we are sustaining the hope that, if not by 2020, then at least in the foreseeable future, the dream of hibakusha will eventually come true.

Volgograd, too, is a member of the “Mayors for Peace” and one of its Vice-Presidents. Recently, our Mayor Mr. Vitaly Likhachev contributed to a “Mayors for Peace” video which featured leaders of international institutions, atomic bombing witnesses and mayors of the other member-cities – 23 speakers in general. In their speeches, they are calling upon everyone to do our best so that there is “No more Hiroshima! No more Nagasaki!” – and supporting their words by concrete projects aimed at the promotion of peace and mutual understanding between countries. If such projects are numerous and successful enough, the nuclear weapons themselves will lose their very purpose, and can be destroyed all over the planet.

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