Hiroshima - Nagasaki bombings commemorated at Grafton Peace Pagoda
by Hattie Nestle - 08/03/2007

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  GRAFTON, NY‹"Nuclear power is the incubator of nuclear weapons," Hattie Nestel of Athol, Massachusetts, told some 100 assembled at the Grafton Peace Pagoda to commemorate the August, 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. Nestel, longtime gardener at the Leverett, Massachusetts, peace pagoda, spoke at a solemn remembrance following a Friday, August 3, pilgrimage to the pagoda from Grafton center.

  Nestel encouraged the crowd to inform itself about the danger of nuclear power. She emphasized that a recent congressional energy proposal includes $50 billion to develop nuclear energy. In keeping with official practice to shroud the nuclear industry in secrecy, Nestel observed that the bill's provision has received little notice in the media.

  The United States is the only nation ever to use nuclear weapons in war, the first time at Hiroshima and Nagasaki where 200,000 civilians were immediately killed and where another 100,000 eventually died from radiation poisoning.

  Active in the campaign to shut down the aging Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon, Vermont, Nestel drew attention to apparent indifference to the dangers of nuclear power and to the potential of nuclear weapons to annihilate the world.

  The United States currently maintains more than 12,000 nuclear weapons, many of them at first alert status. The United States nuclear submarine fleet carries enough nuclear weapons to destroy the earth many times over.

  The peace pagodas are Buddhist shrines raised by the anti-nuclear Japanese Buddhist order, Nipponzan Myohoji, whose founder Nichidatsu Fujii embraced non-violent resistance to nuclearism through a program of pilgrimage, fasting, prayer, and building of peace pagodas. Since 1945, when he founded the order, more than 80 peace pagodas have been built throughout Europe, Asia, Australia, and the United States. Pagodas are under construction in South America and Africa.

  Jun Yasuda, the Nipponzan Myohoji nun at the center of the Grafton pagoda, invited Nestel to be the featured speaker at Friday's commemoration.

  In further commemoration of the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Nestel will lead a walk through four Vermont cities beginning Monday, August 6, in Middlebury, Vermont. The walk will conclude August 9 in Montpelier, the state capital. The drug and alcohol free walk will focus on shutting down Vermont Yankee.

  Co-sponsors of the walk are Nipponzan Myohoji and the anti-nuclear political advocacy group, Citizens Awareness Network. Nestel invites potential participants in the walk to telephone her at 978.790.3074 to make arrangements.


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