Town That Helped Build A-Bomb Erects Monument To Peace
May. 03, 1996
OAK RIDGE, Tenn. (AP) _ A place where scientists once helped build instruments of war now houses a monument to peace.
This city, which produced uranium used in the atomic bombs dropped on Japan in World War II, now has erected a ``peace bell'' in memory of the war. The bell was to be dedicated this afternoon.
The monument carries a two-fold message, said 81-year-old Alvin Weinberg, a nuclear scientist and former director of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
``One, that bitter enemies can become friends,'' he said. ``The other is that the bell will continually remind people of what happened on Aug. 6 and Aug. 9 of 1945, when we hope nuclear weapons were used for the first and only times in war.''
More than 200,000 people died when the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, hastening Japan's surrender to the Allies.
The 7-foot, 4-ton bronze ``bonsho,'' cast by bellmaker Soutetu Iwasawa in Kyoto, Japan, is housed in a pagoda-like pavilion and will be rung three times every evening.
On its side are bas-relief scenes of Tennessee and Japan and the words ``Peace'' and ``International Friendship.''
There also are four dates from the war: Dec. 7, 1941, Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor; Aug. 6, 1945, the bombing of Hiroshima; Aug. 9, 1945, the bombing of Nagasaki; and Sept. 4, 1945, V.J. Day, Japan's surrender.
More than $200,000 in private and corporate donations from the United States, Japan and other countries paid for the monument, which has been in the works for nearly a decade.
``It is beautiful,'' said Japanese-born Sheigeko Uppuluri, who moved to Oak Ridge with her scientist husband in 1963. ``It brings out lots of memories,'' she added.
Some residents are still bitter about the war, however, and have objected to the monument. Mayor Kathy Moore said she gets complaints daily.
``We don't need anything from Japan to remind veterans who fought four years in the Pacific of what happened in the Pacific,'' says Marshall McCloud, a local resident and state chairman of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association.
``It seems like an apology to me. That's what the bell means _ atonement for us dropping the atomic bomb.''
But Hugh Bishop, the volunteer construction manager for the project, said, ``I was in World War II and it doesn't bother me. You know you can't hold a grudge forever.''
The controversy will fade ``once it stays here and some of us old codgers die off that are against it,'' he said, smiling.