For the 33rd year, the community of Rochester, Minnesota, will gather at twilight on Monday, Aug. 6, to remember what happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 and what we are capable of doing. Those in attendance will recreate the Peace Lantern Floating Ceremony, which originated in Japanese folklore to symbolize the release of ancestors’ spirits to the ocean.
Participants will gather at 6:30 p.m. at the picnic shelter at Silver Lake to make lanterns, and at 7:20 p.m. letters from Hiroshima and Nagasaki will be read and a speech will be given by Rochester Mayor Ardell Brede, member of Mayors for Peace, followed by the floating of lanterns at dusk. Music will be provided by DKM and Omni Drummers. In case of rain, the event will take place at Peace United Christ Church.
The event is sponsored by the City of Rochester, Pax Christi, Southeastern Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers, Rochester Franciscan Community and Peace United Christ Church.
In 1946, a year after the atomic bombings, the people of Hiroshima started the lantern floating on the Ota River, where so many victims died after fleeing from the heat of the bombing. In 1985, a woman in Rochester found the story of lantern floating in Hiroshima and began to copy it at Silver Lake. It has become an annual event as a memorial to the atomic bombing.
“The theme is always the same: to remember what happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and to insist on total disarmament of all the nuclear weapons in the world in order to establish world peace,” says Junko Maruta, coordinator of the Peace Lantern Floating Ceremony. “With nuclear weapons we are capable of destroying the world’s civilization. We are also capable of preventing that destruction. We gather to remind ourselves that the choice is ours, to be energized to work for nuclear sanity.
“Every year we usually have about 150 participants who share this special experience with a beautiful sunset at Silver Lake. Many volunteers have dedicated themselves to this ceremony, including Peace United Church, the Rochester Franciscan Community, SEMNAP, Pax Christie, musicians, and those who retrieve the lanterns by boats from the lake after the ceremony.”