A dawn for peace and remembrance

Members of the Vineyard Peace Council and supporters gathered Monday morning to remember Hiroshima. from left to right: Peter Lang, Walter Collins, Sarah Nevin, Jean Hay, Bruce Nevin, Alden Besse, Chris Fried. — Photo by Ben Williams

A group of Islanders committed to peace gathered at sunrise on the Gay Head Cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean to remember the dropping of the first atomic bomb.

Approximately a dozen people stood in a circle next to the Gay Head Lighthouse, a beacon that has guided generations of mariners, and shared thoughts, songs, and stories as the ocean gently roared beneath the clay cliffs.

On August 6, 1945, the Enola Gay dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. Three days later a second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki and Japan agreed to unconditional surrender, ending World War II.

At sunrise, Monday, 67 years later, The Reverend Alden Besse, a member of the Martha’s Vineyard Peace Council, said, “Dear friends and people of peace. We gather to remember the horrors of Hiroshima, and of violence. We rededicate to a just peace, founded on goodwill.”

Members of the group passed around a small ceremonial bowl, after each person spoke, he or she tapped the bowl with a mallet, which emitted a chime punctuating his or her remarks.

“It’s always possible to begin again, the only time that is, is now,” Bruce Nevin said.

Walden Collins, who identified himself as a Vietnam veteran, said, “People need to stop and realize that peace is the most important thing they can do for their community.”

Chris Fried focused on beauty and hope. “This is one of the most beautiful spots I can imagine. Seeing such beauty gives me hope. If God made it so beautiful, I should have faith in God as a result.”

The morning included a discussion on topics that ranged from Imperialism, a 1953 Iranian coup d’etat that was orchestrated by the CIA, and affordable sustainable local agriculture.

Jean Haye spoke to the terrible decisions that are forced upon our nation when we engage in war. She referenced the stories of soldiers who were on their way to invade Japan and were likely spared by the atomic bombing.

Rev. Besse quoted Isaiah, “…and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”

It was the 35th year Islanders had gathered for the ceremony, sponsored by the Vineyard Peace Council. Mr. Besse said the rain and early hour likely diminished attendance.

The gathering ended with the plaintive sounds of Amazing Grace.