Hiroshima and Healing
Prayers tomorrow will fall on Feast of Transfiguration

By Sharon Sheridan

At 8:15 on Wednesday, August 6, exactly 58 years after the first atomic bomb demolished Hiroshima, an interfaith gathering will pause in remembrance at the Lyndale Park Peace Garden in Minneapolis.

At 7:30 a.m., Around 100 people, including a group which had come on a bus from the Convention Center, gathered in a peaceful setting among flower gardens and waterfalls. They sang songs of peace and heard remarks from ELCA Bishop Emeritus Lowell Erdahl, who challenged the United States to work as a force for reconciliation. He spoke ofìWhat if we had treated 9/11 as a crime against humanity and not against the United States?î he asked.

He also speculated what might have happened had America helped to build up the United Nations and used the money and energy expended on war efforts instead for the betterment of living conditions throughout the world.

The Rev. David Selzer, former chaplain of the University Episcopal Center in Minneapolis and president of the national Episcopal Peace Fellowship, hung several long strands of cranes made at the speakersí canopy at the Peace Garden. The cranes had been made by Episcopalians around the country and sent to General Convention. ìWhen youíre folding paper cranes,î said Selzer, ìitís hard to hold a weapon.î

Minneapolis Mayor R. T. Rybak also spoke at the gathering. Episcopalians and others hung paper cranes in the peace garden, culminating with that moment of silent commemoration. Throughout the day, members of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship will give Convention participants origami cranes folded by people across the country.

ìI always think about how Aug. 6 in the Episcopal calendar is the Feast of Transfiguration,î said Episcopalian Marj Wunder of Edina., Minn., who was instrumental in creating the peace garden. ìThere are lots of Ö metaphorical kinds of messages there about the light that transformed the world, and then we had another light that transformed it for evil.î

Wunder is founder and coordinator of Minneapolis-Hiroshima Friendship Cities, which fosters Minneapolisí relationship with Hiroshima. Neighboring St. Paul is a sister city to Nagasaki.

In 1983, Wunder and her husband visited Hiroshima. ìIt proved to be just a life-changing experience.î

Wunder brought with her a notebook of messages written by people in Minneapolis. She presented this to the archives director at the Hiroshima peace museum, who arranged a visit with the museum director. Wunder told him a peace group in Minneapolis hoped the museum could contribute a memorial item for a peace garden. This started a process leading to the dedication of the garden on Aug. 6, 1985, the 40th anniversary of the bombing.

Twin Cities are sister cities: Monument stands in Lyndale Park Peace Garden in Minneapolis, sister city to Hiroshima. Similar ties unite St. Paul and Nagasaki. The museum donated a portion of a bridge railing at the epicenter of the explosion. ìIt truly, truly is a historical, priceless relic,î Wunder said. ìFor them to so graciously offer this to the city of Minneapolis based on this sort of modest request, it still overwhelms me 20 years later to think about it.î

The pillar-shaped relic stands at one end of the garden, and a similar-looking curbing stone later donated from Nagasaki stands at the other. The Nagasaki stone was given by a citizen who had seven of them. ìTo him, they represented the seven members of his family that had been lost in the bombing,î said Wunder, calling it ìa real symbol of reconciliation.î

Masayuki Kato of Japan recounted the story of Sadako, a young Japanese girl who survived the August 6 bombing only to contract leukemia at age 12. She had heard a legend that if a sick person folded 10,000 paper cranes, that person would be restored to health. Sadako was able to fold over 800 cranes before she died. Her friends and others completed the 10,000 cranes and placed them at her grave. These paper cranes have since become a symbol throughout the world for the hope for peace.

Published August 5, 2003 by The Convention Daily

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