Interfaith Peace Walk 2009
Richland/Hanford segment - July 27 & 28
Monks from the Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhist Temple on Bainbridge Island returned in July, leading another Interfaith Peace Walk. Under the theme “Trinity to Trident,” the walk commemorated the 64th anniversary of the catastrophic destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by atomic bombs. The four-state pilgrimage for peace began on July 5 at Los Alamos, New Mexico, proceeded to the Trinity Site of the first atomic bomb test, moved to the Bay Area of California, on to Portland, Oregon, then to Richland/Hanford and coastal cities in Washington, and ended on August 10 at the Trident nuclear submarine base at Bangor, Washington. Bangor — located only 20 miles across the water from Seattle — is the Navy base for eight nuclear submarines, 192 Trident ballistic missiles, and approximately 2,000 thermonuclear warheads (hydrogen bombs).
The walk led by Rev. Senji Kanaeda and Rev. Gilberto Perez was a prayer walk, accompanied by drumming and chanting the prayer for world peace, “Na-Mu Myo-Ho Ren-Ge Kyo” — roughly translated means “Peace beyond understanding through spiritual enlightenment.” The interfaith walkers began each day at 6:30 a.m. with 30 minutes of shared morning prayers. They averaged about 15 miles per day when walking, with rest periods along the way. Support vehicles carried water, food, backpacks and camping gear.
The Richland/Hanford segment of the walk took place on July 27 & 28. The Hanford Nuclear Site at Richland, Washington is where plutonium was produced for the Nagasaki atomic bomb and most of the U.S. nuclear arsenal. World Citizens for Peace arranged the needed lodging, meals and events for the two days. Christ the King Catholic Church and Shalom United Church of Christ provided major support.
Fourteen peace walkers arrived at Christ the King Church from Portland the afternoon of Monday, July 27. They were joined by local peace people for a short walk to the John Dam Plaza in Richland’s civic center, where an opening ceremony took place at 4:00 p.m.
Shalom United Church of Christ provided dinner for the walkers later, followed by a beautiful peace-and music-filled Evensong service in the church sanctuary. The service included a video of Nagasaki and Hanford, artistically created by Nancy Welliver.
The main Hanford segment of the Interfaith Peace Walk on Tuesday, July 28 — a 14-mile round-trip from Richland to the Hanford 300 Area — began immediately after breakfast to avoid the heat of the day. When the 300 Area gate was reached, interfaith prayers were said. The walkers then proceeded to a grassy, shady area of the nearby Pacific Northwest National Laboratory campus, where they enjoyed box lunches kindly provided by Castle Catering of Richland. The return walk followed a path along the Columbia River in temperatures of 100+ F and arrived back at Christ the King around 2:30 p.m., where the visiting walkers were lodged.
Dinner in the C.K. gathering space was followed by a showing of “Original Child Bomb,” an engrossing documentary film based on a poem by the late Trappist monk and spiritual author, Thomas Merton, about the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Following a restful night’s sleep in the C.K. youth center and breakfast, the peace pilgrims departed for their next walk segment in Olympia.
Nipponzan Myohoji (Japan Buddha Brotherhood) is an international order of Buddhist monks and nuns that is dedicated to peace and nuclear disarmament. It is the same order that visited Richland in July 2007 and 2005 with previous Interfaith Peace Walks and in January 2002 on the five-month Hiroshima Flame Interfaith Pilgrimage from Seattle to New York. The order carries on it’s work through the constant practice of prayer, the construction of pagodas dedicated to peace, and through nonviolent walks all around the world as a gentle movement where people of all faiths are spiritually united toward the realization of world peace without nuclear weapons.
1. The Interfaith Peace Walk heads from Richland to Hanford on July 28, 2009.
2. 2009 Interfaith Peace Walk, "Trinity to Trident," at the Hanford 300 Area.
3. Interfaith prayers at the Hanford 300 area gate.
4. 2009 Interfaith Peace Walk returning to Richland.