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Alamogordo, July 27th, 2005

Alamogordo Daily News

Monks walk atomic flame to Trinity Site

By Laura Hunt, Staff Writer
Jul 27, 2005, 12:57 pm

Buddhist monks carrying a lantern lit by embers of the world’s first atomic bomb, which destroyed Hiroshima on the morning of Aug. 6, 1945, are on their way to the birthplace of atomic weapons — Trinity Site, New Mexico.

The Japanese monks, joined by other peace protesters and supporters, started walking on July 16, the 60th anniversary of the test at Trinity Site. They have already carried the “atomic flame” from San Francisco, through southern California and part of Nevada.

After a 25-day, 1,600-mile walk, the flame will be extinguished at the Trinity Site on Aug. 9, the 60th anniversary of the Nagasaki bombing. The ceremony will take place during a television broadcast calling for world peace and an end to nuclear proliferation, said Matt Taylor, Global Nuclear Disarmament Fund co-executive director.

Some Alamogordo residents were unaware of the monks’ journey. One resident, William Meadows, was angered by the news.

“ I’m a veteran of World War II, and I don’t think that these monks got any business coming over here,” he said, “because if it hadn’t been for the A-bomb, there would have been millions of people killed on both sides over there.”

After learning about the monks’ plan, Meadows immediately called Congressman Steve Pearce and left a message with someone in his office.

“ Since when are the Japanese allowed to come down to Trinity Site?That’s what I’m asking the congressman, if he would stop them,” he said to the person on the other line.

However, other residents were supportive of the monks.

“ certainly understand the feelings of anybody who’s experienced that, like the Japanese,” said Walter Miller. “I’m not really fond of nuclear weapons proliferation myself, and I’d like to see them all stopped… It’s an admirable thing that they’re making that kind of trip.”

James Haynes, Alamogordo resident, said the peace protest falls under freedom of speech.

“ Everyone is entitled to their own opinion,” he said. “You should do what you feel is right, and if these people feel the need to protest, they should be able to.”

However, Taylor said the ceremony isn’t political, but humanitarian.

“ It’s not an anti-war thing,” he said, “and it’s not even an argument as to whether (the atomic bomb) should or shouldn’t have been used. It’s about ending a cycle and starting a new era.”

In Zen culture, 60 years is the end of a cycle, Taylor said.

“ They believe that everything good and bad happens in circles,” he said. “The atomic bomb was born at Trinity Site, then used on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. For 60 years, the world has been living in fear that Nagasaki wouldn’t be the last place it was used. Now we’re living with nuclear terrorism every day, so in order to close this circle in a peaceful way, and not to end it in a destructive way, we’re walking it back to where it was born.”

Buddhist monks have taken the flame on many peace walks around the globe, Taylor said, and now, the monks will finally extinguish the flame and end the cycle that started in 1945.

“ I think it’s really wonderful that Trinity Site will finally be connected to all of humanity,” Taylor said.

WALK FOR PEACE — Japanese Buddhist monks carry a lantern containing a remnant of the fire from the nuclear attack on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945. They started walking from San Francisco July 16 and will reach Trinity Site, where the first atomic bomb was tested, Aug. 9 after a 25-day, 1,600-mile walk. There, the atomic flame will be extinguished during a televised ceremony. Photo from www.gndf.org

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