The annual Hiroshima Commemoration organised by Coventry Lord Mayor’s Committee for Peace and Reconciliation was special in 2020 for several reasons, not least of which was that the normally large audience was restricted because of social distancing measures. However the event was streamed online which enabled a larger audience to follow the proceedings.
You can watch a video of the event below.
This year two special anniversaries were being remembered: the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Japan on 6 August 1945 and the 80th anniversary of the bombing of Coventry on 14 November 1940.
Because of coronavirus restrictions, schools were unable to send students to read Sadako’s story telling how this young Japanese girl tried and failed to fold a thousand paper cranes before she died from the effects of the bomb blast. Luckily Vinnie Darby, a student from Cardinal Newman Catholic School, kindly read the story for us and this featured in a video shown to the audience. Also a few Young Coventry Ambassadors were able to attend, taken by their relatives, and met the Lord Mayor and other dignitaries.
Another special part of the ceremony was the bestowing by the Ambassador of Japan of his Commendation to the Lord Mayor’s Committee. Ambassador Yasumasa Nagamine said the Commendation was given in a “spirit of profound gratitude for everything the Committee has done” and “in recognition of the Service’s long and distinguished contribution to the deepening of friendship between Japan and the UK”.
The event also featured an exchange of messages of greeting between the Lord Mayor of Coventry and the Mayor of Hiroshima. The Lord Mayor, Councillor Ann Lucas, showed a Certificate of Friendship which will be presented to the people of Hiroshima when circumstances allow.
The Dean of Coventry Cathedral, John Witcombe, showed a Cross of Nails which will also be presented to the city of Hiroshima. He explained that a cross was “originally forged from nails gathered from the ruins of the bombed and burned Coventry Cathedral. It represents the futility and horror of war, but also the possibility of finding hope even in the midst of our greatest loss. The Christian symbol of the cross is a reminder of the presence of God in Christ in our places of deepest darkness – and wherever God is found and known, we can also find hope. We look forward to presenting this cross to the people of Hiroshima who have embraced their darkness and found within it glimmers of hope and a commitment to peace which now inspires the world.”
All in all this was a very moving and valuable event that helped cement the friendship between the UK and Japan.