Lanterns light the night to mark atomic tragedies

Victoria Raging Grannies are organizing an annual lantern ceremony to mark the bombing of Japan during Second World War

Yumie Kono is preparing for a surge of emotion when she reads the poetry her mother wrote after two atomic bombs forever changed their lives.

Sixty-six years ago, Kono’s older brother and father were killed when Hiroshima was decimated in the atomic blast delivered by the U.S. on Aug. 6, 1945 during the Second World War.

“It’s very sad and dramatic,” the Victoria resident said of her mother’s poetry, written less than two weeks after the bombing.

To mark the anniversary of the tragedy that leveled Hiroshima and three days later Nagasaki, the Victoria Raging Grannies are organizing an annual lantern ceremony on Tuesday (Aug. 9) with support from several groups, such as the Victoria Nikkei Cultural Society.

Dozens of paper lanterns will be decorated and released along the Gorge River. Children from First Metropolitan United Church will be reading stories written by children who went through the bombings.

“It’s not only a memorial for those that died in that senseless bombing, but also we want people to remember the history so we won’t repeat it,” said Fran Thoburn, one of the original Victoria Raging Grannies.

There will also be music and singing, a moment of silence and Kono will be reading her mother’s haiku and tanka poems.

Kono, who was a baby at the time of the bombing, said she doesn’t consider herself an activist. But once a year when she reads her mother’s words at the ceremony, she hopes young people learn from the past.

“They are the future, the next generation,” said Kono, adding that the message about the dangers of nuclear weapons and energy is especially poignant after a tsunami and earthquake wreaked havoc with Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant in March.

“I wish we didn’t use nuclear power. It’s very dangerous,” said Kono.

The free family friendly event happens Tuesday (Aug. 9) at 7 p.m. at Craigflower Park where Admirals Road and Gorge Road West meet in Saanich. Bring a blanket or a lawn chair for sitting.

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