The 50th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima was commemorated in Salt Lake City Sunday night with the tolling of church bells, a somber ceremony of ashes and prayers for peace.
About 400 people gathered in the Cathedral of the Madeleine for an interfaith service, joining millions of people worldwide in remembering the most destructive moment in the history of warfare."August 6, 1995, is not an occasion for recrimination, but for a re-commitment to peace in our lives and in our world," said the Most Rev. George Niederauer, bishop of the Salt Lake Catholic Diocese.
"We remember Hiroshima and Nagasaki this evening. We imagine the suffering and the horror and the grief. We believe in our divine Father's call to pray and work for changes in our minds and hearts and actions, changes which will prevent another Hiroshima, another Nagasaki, as well as all the variations on that theme of violence, war and destruction," Bishop Niederauer said.
The congregation stood in silence as the cathedral's bells tolled for the victims of war and then listened to the mournful strains of Koto music performed by Eiko Kishimoto. The service also featured the International Children's Choir and Bible readings by the Rev. Caryl Marsh, pastor of St. Paul's Episcopal Church, and Pastor Donald H. Baird of the First Presbyterian Church.
Several religious and civic leaders and individual participants offered prayers for peace. Among them was grade school student Kate Nemetz, who offered a prayer "for parents and all those who nurture and guide us that theymay be models of peace, teaching us by their good example how to resolve conflict without harm, how to care for and respect all life and how to reach out to others in love."
Margaret May, a World War II Navy nurse, prayed for the victims of all wars, "both soldier and civilian, that they may rest in peace."
John Medina, president of the Utah Coalition of La Raza, offered a prayer for the advocates of human rights in every culture. "May unflagging insistence on the worth of every human being become the norm and universal ethic by which we all order our personal lives."
Participants at the service were invited to receive a mark of ashes on their palms for the Japanese city that was reduced to ashes. "When we receive these ashes in memory of Hiroshima, we give ourselves also the work of peace and the attitudes of peace," Bishop Niederauer said.
That work must take place in all relationships, in all situations, beginning within families and neighborhoods and continuing across all racial, ethnic, religious, political and economic divisions, the bishop said.
"The better we come to know one another, the better we realize how much we have in common as the human children of the one divine Father, and how important are the features which unite us, much more important than those which divide us," he said.