Saturday marks 60 years since the United States dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima; the bombing of Nagasaki followed three days later.
While not an anniversary that many people want to remember, local peace-activist Vince Eirene says events like the war in Iraq make the day too important to forget. Especially with the Department of Defense's Software Engineering Institute located at Carnegie Mellon University.
"What I and others are doing is conducting a non-violent counter-presence to the violent presence of the DOD's Software Engineering Institute," Eirene says. "The anniversary of the devastation in Hiroshima is the perfect time to call attention to the conventional- and nuclear-weapons research our government conducts."
A 24-hour vigil at the SEI began Monday with heavy bannering and leafleting. The event is to culminate with Saturday's "day of action," which includes talks, performances, a reading of Thomas Merton's poem "Original Child Bomb" and, finally, a march around the SEI.
Also this week, as part of the worldwide Shadow Project, the SEI is to be surrounded by chalk shadows, representing the human shadows burnt into the streets during the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings.
Eirene says he has been involved with SEI protests since 1988. Volunteers this year have been sparse, but he says the event always seems to snowball once the week-long vigil starts.
The event is endorsed by the Thomas Merton Center's Anti-War Committee, Black Voices for Peace, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom and Abolition 2000.
As the war in Iraq trudges on, Eirene hopes the protest will remind people that the original nuclear attacks ended what began as a conventional war. Says Eirene, "If it's one thing we learned from Hiroshima, it's that conventional warfare is the fuse to using nuclear weapons."International Shadow Project, www.shadowprojecthome.org