On Saturday morning, hand-painted panels of fabric were strung on the porch of the Frederick Friends Meeting on North Market Street, bearing the title: “What I cannot bear to think of as lost forever to nuclear war.” The panels depicted people, children, animals and nature in a variety of styles and mediums.
The “ribbon” of individual panels is meant to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. While the anniversary is next week, the Frederick Friends Meeting wanted to hold their own event so they some members can attend events in Washington, D.C., next week.
The project emulates the original efforts of The Ribbon International, which created a 14-mile long string of individual panels throughout Washington, D.C., to oppose nuclear warfare in 1985. Andrea Norouzi had the idea for doing the project locally after receiving an email from another peace group, which was planning on replicating the ribbon in New York City.
The coronavirus pandemic put dampers on many of the larger plans, although there will still be a candlelight vigil in D.C. among a few other socially distanced events. Norouzi created her panel in January so she could show the Friends at a Martin Luther King, Jr. dinner and invite them to participate as well.
Her panel reads “all creatures great and small,” and depicts a tree of life, elephants, doves, songbirds, giraffes and a house with the words “one family above it.
Each animal she used is the favorite animal of one of her sisters, while she represented herself through the songbird. Norouzi wanted to depict sisterhood and family, which are important to her. She created the panel with the help of her daughter and grandddaughter.
“It just was such a wonderful experience,” she said. “We sang, we danced, we laughed, we created together. There’s nothing better than that.”
In addition to discussing the meanings behind the ribbons, Dr. Dat Duthinh shared information about the current state of nuclear warfare and militarization. The United States currently spends more on its military than the next 11 countries combined. Of the nine countries that have atomic weapons, the U.S. spends the most by a wide margin.
He also discussed the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which he said were opposed by seven out of the eight major generals at the time. They figured Japan was well on its way to surrendering.
“Not only were these events tragic, but they were unnecessary,” Duthinh said.
James Wagner said the increasing concern about nuclear warfare has left him and other members of groups like Prevent Nuclear War Frederick worried.
“What our local groups ... are concerned about is the fact that a major treaty, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty collapsed last August,” Wagner said. “And the Bureau of the Atomic Sciences has moved the doomsday clock to 100 seconds before midnight.”
The doomsday clock has sat at two minutes for the last thirty or so years, so a 20 second decrease is quite significant.
The service on Saturday morning also connected with Morningside Monthly Meeting and New York Quarterly Meeting in New York through Zoom to share some of their panels. They also observed a 214-second moment of silence to commemorate the 214,000 lives that were lost due to the bombings.
James Holmes also read a letter of support from Jessica Fitzwater of the Frederick County Council voicing her support for the five tenants of the “Back from the Brink” plan, which are ideas to help decrease the risk of nuclear warfare. One such tenant is taking away presidential power to launch a nuclear attack.
The Friends, who belong to the peaceful Quaker religion, hope to bring awareness to the Back rom the Brink plan and have the local government add their name to the list of supporters.
“It doesn’t matter how man nuclear weapons there are because one is too many,” Norouzi said. “... Because it represents hate it represents destruction. It is opposed to all life.”