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Norwalk Ceremony Marks Solemn Anniversary

NORWALK, Conn. – John Black Lee and Judy Meikle are aware of the approaching 10-year anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001. They are also aware of an anniversary they think is neglected, one they say has more bearing on modern life than is usually acknowledged: the August 1945 bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, the first and only times the nuclear bombs have been used.

"This is so significant in our lives," said Meikle, a Darien resident. Lee, a World War II veteran who lives in New Canaan, says everyone should read John Hersey's "Hiroshima," which he calls "an amazing piece of journalism."

Lee had the book with him Thursday in Ryan Park, where 11 people met to mark the anniversary of the bombings. Each took a turn reading aloud a peace declaration issued Aug. 6 by Matsui Kazumi , mayor of Hiroshima. Children played on the park's grass near the solemn group, a comfortable breeze making the summer evening pleasant. The words spoken recalled children scarred forever during the horrific bombing that brought an end to World War II.

"It's almost impossible to imagine what life would be like if an atomic bomb went off," Lee said as he took his turn reading.

"It surprises me," Meikle said. "Everything seems like a long time, and yet, it was not so long ago. We don't want to remember it. It was so horrendous that, like so many awful things, we just want to say, 'Oh, that was a long time ago, it's not that relevant.' And yet, you've got something like 9-11 that we're going to make such a big deal about, with the 10-year anniversary coming up. But something as significant as Hiroshima, you don't want to remember."

She listened to a radio program about Afghanistan on the way to the park. "Our policies in Afghanistan are creating so many people who hate us," she said. "It might be killing a few terrorists, but in the process it's creating all these hundreds, if not thousands, if not millions of people that hate America. How is that keeping us safe?"

She worries that it has increased the liklihood of a nuclear attack on the United States. "When I was standing in that circle, I was thinking that I hope it really doesn't take the reality of a nuclear attack here for us to get the reality of what's in (Hersey's) book."

How do you feel about the U.S. bombing of Japan to end World War II?

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