Raiza Bettis, Livermore

On Aug. 6, advocates for peace and justice held their annual rally at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory to call for the elimination of nuclear weapons.

The virtual event was held on the 75th anniversary of the U.S. dropping an atomic bomb over the Japanese city of Hiroshima in 1945, during World War II. In a city of nearly 300,000 inhabitants, nearly half died immediately or within a few months. A second bomb was dropped over Nagasaki three days later, leading to Japan’s surrender.

Many survivors are still with us, and their plea remains that there be an end to the nuclear threat. Each year they remind us that nuclear bombs make us suffer, physically, mentally and socially, for the rest of our lives.

One survivor, the Rev. Nobuaki Hanaoka, spoke at the virtual rally. His words were filled with sadness as he told about the bombing of Nagasaki, when he was just 8 months old. His only memories of his mother and sister were of them pale and bedridden. When he was still a young boy, they died of illness linked to radiation poisoning.   

Marylia Kelley, executive director at Livermore Tri-Valley CAREs, addressed LLNL’s role in promoting a new nuclear arm trace. Kelley, who has spent more than 37 years researching, writing and facilitating public participation in nuclear policy decisions, shared a chart showing that 88.7% of LLNL’s budget for the coming year is for nuclear weapons activities, while the budget for civilian science is less than 2%.

In this time of COVID-19, it is sad to say that this is the government’s priority, and this is what we must change. It’s clear to me that we must bring about a systemic change, nationally and locally within the lab, to prevent nuclear use.

We must become partners in the growing global movement to abolish nuclear weapons to prevent the same tragedy that happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki from being repeated.