Remembering Hiroshima Day

Peace Council and Quakers remember those who died in nuclear bombing of Japanese city.


On Friday, August 6, a dozen people showed up at Bend in the Road Beach (at the Edgartown end of State Beach) to commemorate the Japanese men, women, and children who died as a result of the bombing of Hiroshima 76 years ago.

Forming a circle and passing an imaginary bell, everyone took turns sharing words and songs, prayers and silences, devoting themselves to justice and peace. The event was sponsored by the Martha’s Vineyard Peace Council and by the Quaker meeting, as they’ve done for the past 25 years.

Bruce Nevin,a member of Martha’s Vineyard Peace Council, and his wife Sarah, both part of the Quaker meeting on the Island, were in charge of the event. They took over a few years ago after Alden Besse, former Episcopal minister at Grace Church, and Chris Fried, active Peace Council leaders, both passed away. 

“We used to go up to Aquinnah’s lighthouse, but moved it to State Road because it seemed easier for people to get to,” said Sarah Nevin, who used to wake up at the crack of dawn to head up-Island for the event, as it would take place at sunrise. “Every year, Hiroshima Day would come around, and my mother would get us involved in some kind of Quaker activity to remember that peace has to be the way,” she said.

Among the other people present was Paula Gutlove from Cambridge. Gutlove is a longtime activist, director of Physicians for Social Responsibility in the 1980s, and now involved with Massachusetts Peace Action. 

”We are led to raise consciousness; this isn’t a political agenda,” said Bob Laskowski, the Quaker meeting’s clerk and also a member of the Peace Council, when speaking about the event. “Making peace is a gesture of faith … If you want to make peace, you must understand what leads to wars.”

Halfway through the commemoration, the participants joined together in songs: “Down by the Riverside” (“I ain’t gonna study war no more …”); “Where Have All the Flowers Gone” by Pete Seeger, and “This Pretty Planet” by Tom Chapin.

Depending on the year, the Peace Council and Quaker meeting expect 20 or so people to attend. No matter who turns out, what matters is commemorating the event. “There are 11 of us today, and that’s good enough,” Sarah Nevin said.


  1. The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki while horrific and responsible for anywhere between 120k and 240k Japanese lives, saved the lives of millions of Japanese and Americans who would die in a protracted war that Japan had already planned against the US.

  2. Andy– you are likely correct that these bombings traded innocent Japanese lives for an end to a horrific war. My father was in a Japanese P.O.W. camp when this happened. He was back in the states in a month.
    That does not diminish the value of the lives lost.

    I am proud that 2 generations later, and 7,250 miles away, people on my island still care enough to acknowledge that horrific day.
    Thank you to all who participated.

    • Keller, they are not acknowledging that fateful day, they are protesting that we dropped the bomb and you know it.

  3. Umm…I’m pretty sure Friday was not the 8th, being as today, Monday, is the 9th. No matter how I try and figure it, the math just doesn’t work.

  4. Sorry but I just had to ask ==> “Who drew First Blood on this situation”?

    Any mention by the `Martha’s Vineyard Peace Council and by the Quakers` about the surprise the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that crippled or destroyed nearly 20 American ships and more than 300 airplanes.
    Dry docks and airfields were likewise destroyed.
    Most important, 2,403 sailors, soldiers and civilians were killed and about 1,000 people were wounded.

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