Local and national organizations like Women Against Military Madness (WAMM) and Veterans for Peace belong to ICAN and are among those with active campaigns opposing nuclear weapons.

It Must Be “Never Again”

By JoAnn Blatchley  Women Against Military Madness Newsletter, Vol. 41, No. 3, Summer 2023

St. Paul MN sister city Nagasaki donated cherry trees

As a gesture of mutual friendship beginning in 1912, Japan donated cherry trees to the U.S. St. Paul welcomes the cherry blossoms, donated by Sister City Nagasaki, in a festival at Como Park each year. Photo: KSTP

It has been three-quarters of a century since the end of World War II, a war with unthinkable cruelty in both Europe and Asia. As we approach the 78th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the threat of using nuclear bombs as a means of warfare is real. The United States is supporting the rearmament of Japan. Europe is swimming toward war, spilling over from Ukraine. The United States (and its NATO allies) and Russia are actively fighting a proxy war in Ukraine.   The days when Mutually Assured Destruction generated fear seem to have disappeared.

HIBAKUSHAThe back of a hibakusha, a survivor of a 1945 nuclear  bomb in Japan, Her garment is enmeshed with her skin.

The hibakusha, survivors of the A-bomb, are dying; their stories must still be told. In Japan, teenagers are learning to tell the stories of hibakusha from the survivors themselves, so the reality of nuclear war will be remembered after that generation has passed.  Minneapolis author Caren Stelson has written two books telling the story of hibakusha Sachiko Yasui of Nagasaki-  one called Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bombing Survivor’s Story and a picture book entitled A Bowl Full of Peace. Yet many Americans don’t even know the story of Sadako, the girl who attempted to fold 1000 paper peace cranes before her untimely death from radiation sickness caused by the U. S. dropping a nuclear bomb on Hiroshima in 1945.

Peacemakers felt great joy when the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was approved in 2017. The treaty has since been ratified by 68 nations. The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), a global coalition of nongovernmental agencies whose mission it is to promote awareness of nuclear weapons and the implementation of the treaty, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize the same year.  However, none of the nine countries which currently have nuclear weapons has signed on.

Local and national organizations like Women Against Military Madness (WAMM) and Veterans for Peace belong to ICAN and are among those with active campaigns opposing nuclear weapons. Of Minnesota’s Twin Cities congressional representatives, Ilhan Omar and Betty McCollum, have signed a pledge to support the treaty and act toward reducing the nuclear threat.

Paradoxically, considering her ICAN pledge, McCollum who served as House chair of the 2022 Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, was instrumental in increasing the “defense” budget,which includes the modernization of nuclear weapons.The U.S. plays a leadingrole pushing the world in this extremely dangerous direction with the nine other nuclear nations also modernizing their weapons. Antinuclear advocates have been unable to persuade their congressional representatives to not increase “defense”. Congresswoman Ilhan Omar protested that members of Congress were voting for record-shattering billions when Minnesotans were struggling with the soaring cost of basic items like food and housing, and investments in basic needs like healthcare were blocked. She said that “the bill will only further militarize foreign policy, lining the pockets of defense contractors while inevitably costing the lives of innocent people around the world. *


What can we as citizens concerned for world peace and social justice do?  Our first responsibility is to learn, then tell the true stories of nuclear devastation. And educate the public about the danger of nuclear weapons today. Both the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, adopted “Back from the Brink” resolutions, proving that a small group of committed people can make a difference. Now we must work with people of like minds to build a broad antinuclear movement. We must convince our government officials to stop funding weapons of mass destruction. The latter is very difficult, more so than the issue of gun control, because the “defense” lobby receives billions of dollars of support from the federal government each year.

JoAnn Blatchley has been the convener of the Minneapolis St. Paul Hiroshima

Nagasaki Commemoration Committee (MSPHNCC) for 20 years. She served as president of the Saint Paul – Nagasaki Sister City Committee (SPNSCC) for 10years and is still very active in that organization and with the End War Committee of Women Against Military Madness.

*Ilhan Omar. Press Release. Statement on National Defense Authorization Act. July 14, 2022. tinyurl.com/24k7huzv


Learn the stories and educate children. The stories of Sadako, Sachiko, and little Shin on his bicycle pedaling to school on that fateful day.

Support peace actions. Participate in the Lake Street Bridge vigil. Held every Wednesday afternoon. Share info about the Veterans for Peace Golden Rule antinuclear boat sailing around North America: schedule of ports of call, interactive map, actions to participate in. vfpgoldenruleproject.org

Write to –  or call – without ceasing to our elected representatives.  It is essential to keep the nuclear issue before our congressional representatives and U.S. senators. The Capitol switchboard will connect you with their offices in Washington, DC. Call: 202-224-3121.

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One Comment

  1. Suzan Koch August 16, 2023 at 8:51 PM - Reply

    Thank you for this writing and the important information in regards to the current support for creating more nukes and war by approving more and more funding for weapons, including for Nuclear Bombs with ever increasing speed and with 3x the power of the Atomic bombs dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. As an aside, the U.S. also fire bombed Tokyo to a smoking ruin – AND Japan had already offered to surrender, and instead the U.S. Military and Truman, kept that secret because they were determined to demonstrate the power and destruction of their Atomic Bombs. In addition, they wanted to let the Soviet Union know what the U.S. could do to them. I am going to make myself, leave it there, for now.

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