Natalia Koteva speaks at City Hall on August 1

by Natalia Koteva, PSR-LA Peace and Security Ambassador

August 6th and 9th, 2010 marked the 65th anniversary of the US Atomic Bomb strikes on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In remembrance and honor, a small but united crowd gathered at the Koyasan Buddhist Temple and in front of City Hall in Los Angeles on August 1st, as part of the event “Never Again – A Commemoration of the Victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.” The event was sponsored by the Los Angeles Area Nuclear Disarmament Coalition, a group of local organizations committed to abolishing nuclear weapons.

Speakers included were Darrell Miho, Photographer and Author documenting Hibakusha; Natalia Koteva PT, Peace & Security Ambassador with Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles; Steve Rohde, Chair, Interfaith Communities United for Justice & Peace; and Walt McCarron, Southern California Federation of Scientists.

The event was initiated with a commemoration service at the Koyasan Buddhist Temple, where Darrel Miho spoke empowering people to create “peace within” first and to extend it then to the world at large. At the conclusion of the service, people walked to City Hall where the rest of the speakers presented. They spoke on the current state of nuclear weapons as well as urged citizens to become more proactive in their communities and in the political process. The underlying theme in all presentations was the complete elimination of all nuclear weapons.

Hiroshima and Nagazaki carry the painful memory of a devastating reality, which occurred 65 years ago. This is the devastating reality of nuclear weapons, where a single device can cause massive levels of destruction. In the immediate aftermath, over 200 thousand people were killed by burns, trauma or radiation. Despite dramatic reductions in global nuclear weapons, this devastating reality is still the reality of our lifetime… 65 years later. Today, there remain about 23,000 nuclear weapons in 9 countries. The U.S. nuclear stockpile alone contains 2,400 megatons, the equivalent of 159,000 Hiroshimas.

The presenters emphasized that 2010 is a very important year when it comes to nuclear weapons because this year our government is re-examining its nuclear weapons policy. In September, the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee is scheduled to vote on the Strategic Arms Control Treaty (START), a bilateral treaty between the U.S. and Russia. The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) is due in the months to come as well, which will ban all nuclear tests.

The event concluded with the beautiful acoustic performance of Tapia, the musical inspiration for the day. We all left committed, empowered and knowing that Yes, We Can eliminate nuclear weapons, and Yes, We Will.

“Today, every inhabitant of this planet must contemplate the day when this planet may no longer be habitable. Every man, woman and child lives under a nuclear sword of Damocles, hanging by the slenderest of threads, capable of being cut at any moment by accident, or miscalculation, or by madness. The weapons of war must be abolished before they abolish us.”
-John F. Kennedy (JFK)
In an address before the General Assembly of the United Nations on September 25, 1961