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CBS5, July 17th, 2005

CBS5

Buddhist Monks Mark Anniversary of Atomic Tests


(KCBS) - Japanese Zen monks set out from San Francisco this weekend on a 1600-mile march to mark the 60th anniversary of the bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima at the end of World War II.

The monks are carrying with them the Atomic Flame , a fire ignited from the burning ruins of Hiroshima, which they plan to carry to the original atomic test site in Trinity, New Mexico.

Accompanied by a group that included Nobel Prize winners, politicians, and American Indian peace activists, the monks brought the flame from San Francisco's waterfront to SBC Park.

The march began in the City because parts of the bombs that devastated Japan were flown from San Francisco to the Enola Gay in the Pacific.

The monks arrived in Palo Alto on Saturday evening, where they met with the mayor. On Sunday morning they set off for San Jose.

Matt Taylor, co-executive director of the non-profit Global Nuclear Disarmament Fund that is sponsoring the walk, said the march follows an established 20th century Japanese Buddhist tradition of marching for peace.

He told KCBS the monks "walk all over the world, sometimes carrying this flame with them andsometimes just walking for peace."

He said one of the monks has walked across the United States eight times, and another has crossed the entire continent of Australia, while another has been doing peace walks for more than three decades.

The monks plan to extinguish the Atomic Flame at the test site as a symbolic gesture in support of nuclear disarmament.

American Indian community leaders plan to escort the monks through some of the most treacherous stretches of desert terrain, where temperatures can approach 130 degrees Fahrenheit.

"(Some) American Indians also consider themselves to be victims of the atomic bomb," Taylor said, "from all the atmospheric testing in the 50's a lot of fallout fell over Indian reservations."

The monks will reach New Mexico in early August, near the anniversaries of the two atomic attacks, where 120 people will accompany the monks to the site where the bomb prototypes were tested.

"The monks will silently extinguish the flame that they've kept lit for 60 years, hoping to close the circle of fear and open a new circle that will see the beginning of nuclear dismantlement by the people of the world," Taylor said.
(9:35am, jro)

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