By Akio Nishikiori, member of the Rotary Club of Hiroshima Southeast, Japan, and an atomic bomb survivor
My Rotary club, Hiroshima Southeast, has actively promoted peace for its entire 60-year existence. We built a house for orphans who lost their families during the atomic bombings in 1945 and in 1982, became a sister club with Rotary Club of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, USA. Our two clubs continue to exchange friendship and organize joint service projects.
This year marks two occasions: the 75th anniversary since the bombs were dropped and our club’s 60th anniversary. To commemorate both, our club planned to plant two tree saplings – second-generation descendants of a tree that survived the atomic bomb – in a park in Koge-machi in Fukuoka, Japan. We chose that park because it is at the exact mid-point between Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The mayor and town council accepted and supported our project.
On the International Day of Peace, 21 September 2019, we held an inauguration event with more than 400 attendees, including community residents and local school children, the mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, members of three Rotary clubs (Hiroshima Southeast, Nagasaki South, and Buzen), and members of a local Interact Club. We planted the one sapling each at two locations that we named “Hiroshima Hill” and “Nagasaki Hill.” After the event, we continued the ceremony inside a community hall, where the mayors made proclamations of peace and declared that the trees would stand as a silent witness for peace.
I talked about my own experience as an atomic bomb survivor. I talked about giving meaning to the deaths of those who perished from the bombs and the need for an open peace movement transcending Hiroshima and Nagasaki. A youth theater group performed an original drama about the grave reality of atomic bombs.
We hope that many peace activities will be held in Koge-machi. By collaborating with other Rotary clubs, we hope this place will become a hub where children and young people from all over the world can grow in their understanding of peace and be a witness for peace, just like the seedlings of the trees we planted in the park.
Adapted with permission. Read the original post in Japanese