Nagasaki is getting ready for a very important day.
This is the Peace Statue that stands (sits!) at the top of the Peace Park, very near to the hypocentre, the place directly under the explosion of the atomic bomb on August 9, 1945. In the Peace Park is the "Peace Symbol Zone", there are 15 statues from various countries and cities around the world that have been donated to the park in the name of PEACE.
When you enter the park, from the south side, you must pass by the "Fountain of Peace"...a beautiful fountain that resembles the wings of a dove in flight. Walking through the park, it is hard to imagine what it was like here, 63 years ago. This part of town is probably the most beautiful, I think...walking through the trees and flowers and all the beautiful statues...it's so very nice.
At the north end of the park...stands the Peace Statue.
He is 10 meters tall and was created by a local sculptor.
The statue is full of special meaning: His right hand points to the threat of nuclear weapons while his left hand, reaching out, symbolizes eternal peace; his closed eyes offer a prayer for the repose of the bomb victims' souls. The folded right leg and extended left leg signify both meditation and the initiative to stand up and rescue the people of the world.
Installed in front of the statue is a black marble vault containing the names of the atomic bomb victims and survivors who died in subsequent years.
On August 9, as in every year, the people of Nagasaki will gather here, for a memorial. The Mayor will give his Peace Declaration to the World. Thousands of people will gather here as they pray for those who have died.
And we pray...for peace.
Even though it is the summer vacation, all elementary, junior high and high school students will attend school on this day. Each school will have some sort of memorial ceremony...and then at 11:02, a city-wide moment of silence.
I am very proud that Issei volunteered to be a member of the Peace Ceremony for his school. He and the other 5th grade members have been meeting with the sponsors and making plans for what they are going to do on that day.
I have a few friends and students who are survivors of the atomic bomb or Hibakusha (被爆者, ),which literally translates to "explosion-affected people". The K-man's father, though not here at the time of the bomb, came soon after to help in the aftermath and was included as hibakusha in the records.
Yes, this is a day for sadness...for prayer...but most of all...it is a day with the underlying idea of hope. And for that...we must get ready.