Closing Plenary
2001 World Conference against A & H Bombs-Nagasaki
August 9, 2001

Michael Hovey
NGO Committee on Disarmament (NY)

Dear friends, Konnichi Wa.

At this unforgettable hour, on this unforgettable day in human history, I share your sadness as we remember that terrible moment, 56 years ago, when NAGASAKI was turned into hell on earth by the Atomic Bombs. With you, I remember and pray for all those who died as a result of the explosion; with you, I look for ways to assist the Hibakusha -- of Nagasaki, of Hiroshima, of continued nuclear testing.

I also bring you greetings of peace from my colleagues on the NGO Committee on Disarmament at the United Nations in New York, where the urgent need to abolish all nuclear weapons is our daily preoccupation.

Since my colleagues at this conference have described well the challenges facing us, I would like to tell you a personal story, in which this city, Nagasaki, plays a leading role.

26 years ago, I was stationed at the US Navy base in Sasebo, just one hour from here, and visited Nagasaki many times. I remember by first visit to the old Atomic Bomb Museum and Peace Park.

As I looked at the photos of the children who had been killed by the atomic bomb, I was overwhelmed with sadness and shame. As a human being, I felt tremendous compassion for those who suffered so terribly. As an American, I felt ashamed and angry that my country had used such a cruel, horrible weapon against civilian populations. As a Catholic, I recalled that my church had condemned the use of such weapons, calling such use ga crime against God and humanity itself.h

I decided that I could no longer be a part of an organization that could inflict such terrible destruction and commit such indiscriminate murder, so I requested and received an early discharge as a gconscientious objector to all war.h I left the Navy on February 11, 1976, and began to devote my life to working for peace.

Today, 25 years later, I have returned to Nagasaki as a professor of peace studies and the chief NGO representative at the United Nations for Pax Christi International, the global Catholic peace movement. So, as you can see, my visits to Nagasaki provided the inspiration for me to devote the rest of my life to peace education and to become, in a sense, an ambassador for peace. For this great gift, I say, gNagasaki, Domo Arigato Gozaimashita.h

Let me conclude with a request, to the young people of Nagasaki especially. You all have a special role to play in creating a more peaceful world, because of the history of your city and your families. I hope each of you will find different ways to be gAmbassador for Peaceh throughout your lives. Our world desperately needs your witness and your message of peace. No More Nagasakis. No More Hiroshimas. No More Hibakusha. Let there be peace over the whole world!

Thank you.

To the 2001 Wolrd Conference against A & H Bombs