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WWII atomic bombings commemorated with dance, ceremony in Easthampton

  • Andy Larkin pulls a stream of lanterns in Nashawannuck Pond at The Hiroshima and Nagasaki Remembrance and Lantern Ceremony in Easthampton, Sunday. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Doris Madson works with Kelley Crisp to make an origami crane at The Hiroshima and Nagasaki Remembrance and Lantern Ceremony, Sunday, August 5, 2018. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Zazie Tobey, front, Michelle Marroquin, back left, and Sharon Marroquin, back right, perform the “Dance of Remembrance,” createdby Michelle Marroquin, during Sunday’s ceremony in Easthampton. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Back, kathy Eichholz, middle left, Kirsten Eichholz, Lynne Davis, and Miho Connolly, members of the Mountain River Taiko play at The Hiroshima and Nagasaki Remembrance and Lantern Ceremony, Sunday, August 5, 2018 —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Andy Larkin pulls a stream of lanterns in Nashawannuck Pond at The Hiroshima and Nagasaki Remembrance and Lantern Ceremony, in Easthampton Sunday, August 5, 2018. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Andy Larkin pulls a stream of lanterns in Nashawannuck Pond at the Hiroshima and Nagasaki Remembrance and Lantern Ceremony in Easthampton, Sunday. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS



Staff Writer
Sunday, August 05, 2018

EASTHAMPTON — More than 70 years have elapsed since atomic bombs were used in war for the first and only time, causing nearly incomprehensible death and destruction to two Japanese cities.

To capture her feelings about those 1945 events and her profound sorrow for the loss of life, Michelle Marroquin created “Dance of Remembrance,” an interactive piece focused on the vision of a small child who loses her life and then becomes an angel and envoy of peace to the world.

“I think about a person like me, a girl, just going about her daily life, when something so huge and out of her control happens,” Marroquin said.

On Sunday evening, Marroquin performed the dance with her sister, Sharon Marroquin of Austin, Texas, and colleague Zazie Tobey, of Leverett, for about 100 people who gathered near Nashawannuck Pond to reflect on the 250,000 killed by the use of the nuclear weapons.

The Hiroshima and Nagasaki Remembrance and Lantern Ceremony, held in Easthampton for the second time, was created in the early 1980s by longtime Northampton peace activist Frances Crowe. Crowe, 99, was on hand to observe the event, holding a sign reading simply, “Abolish Nuclear Weapons.”

Also commemorating the atomic bombings Sunday, there was a candlelight vigil, “Resurrecting Life From the Inferno,” at the New England Peace Pagoda in Leverett.

During the Easthampton ceremony, there was a musical performance by Mountain River Taiko, the serving of free Peace Dream ice cream from Mt. Tom’s Homemade, origami demonstrations and several speakers.

Social activist Orlando Isaza said these are perilous times because the stockpile of nuclear weapons is in the hands of world leaders who are not mentally stable.

“We could very easily end up in extinction,” Isaza said. “I don’t think I’m exaggerating.”

In fact, Isaza said he worries that what happened in Japan was the beginning of the end for humankind.

“Our planet is a temple and we are the only human race,” Isaza said.

Ira Helfand, a member of the steering committee of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, said Hiroshim and Nagasaki remain examples of what could happen to other cities.

He suggests joining Back from the Brink, an organization that calls on the United States to lead the global effort to eliminate nuclear weapons.

“It is not enough to remember what happened — we must take action,” Helfand said.

At the end of the event, those gathered lit and held candles alongside the pond. Other candles were placed in several Japanese lanterns, decorated by Easthampton children as part of an art project at the Emily Williston Memorial Library led by Kelley Crisp.

Crisp said she discussed the concepts of peace and asked the children to draw or paint their ideas of the concept. “We talked about celebrating peace,” Crisp said.

These lanterns were then placed in the water and pulled across the pond by Andy Larkin paddling a kayak.

While much of the ceremony had a somber tone, there is also a feeling of hope, said Jeff Napolitano, director of the Resistance Center for Peace and Justice. Napolitano said the event comes during a time when countries are signing and ratifying the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, adopted by the United Nations in 2017.

“So no one can say there’s not momentum,” Napolitano said. “Our job is to get our country to push this forward.”

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.