Rapid City and Nikko City, Japan, have been sister cities since 1994. Through a partnership under Sister Cities International, Rapid Citians are invited to ring bells of peace to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings.
Margo Kaleda of the Rapid City Nikko City sister city organization said there will be public observances at Rapid City businesses and churches on Wednesday and Saturday, where bells will be ringing to mark the precise times the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II.
Kaleda said the ringing of bells will observe 75 years of peace between the U.S. and Japan. In Japan, the bombs fell on August 6, 1945, and August 9, 1945. Applying the international date line to Rapid City, the actual time of the Hiroshima bombing was 5:15 p.m., Aug. 5 and the Nagasaki bombing at 8:02 p.m. Aug. 8.
"We are asking for the bells of peace to ring at those same exact times next Wednesday and Saturday," Kaleda said in a news release. "These can be bells big and small — they can be bells from bell choirs, bells at houses of worship, individuals ringing hand bells, call bells, cow bells, anything."
Public observances will be held at the outdoor concourse in front of City Hall, 300 Sixth Street in Rapid City. Kaleda said she invites the public to bring their bells downtown to ring. She is also encouraging the public to display signs sharing messages of peace, utilizing tags of '75 years of peace' and #USJapanbells.
The Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings directly led to Japan's surrender in World War II, triggered the Cold War and affected the world's approach to the use of atomic energy and the diplomatic relations between various nations that continues decades later.
The bombings resulted in the deaths of 146,000 people at Hiroshima and 80,000 at Nagasaki.
Rapid City Council member Darla Drew said she will participate in the ringing of bells for peace events. Drew accompanied Rapid City students on a trip to Nikko City last summer.
"The anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings produces a spectrum of emotions for people of both Japan and the United States," Drew said in a news release. "The emotions remain strong and powerful after 75 years."
Drew said the relationship with Nikko City through Sister Cities International is special to her and important to Rapid City.
"Our partnership with our Japanese Sister City of Nikko City has provided great opportunities for exchange between Rapid City and Nikko City residents," Drew said. "It's an opportunity for sharing and promoting understanding between two cultures. Such a relationship is helpful on this 75th anniversary, because it helps foster deeper appreciation and awareness of how the two nations were impacted and how their relationship grew into a peaceful one after such devastation."
Interested organizations wishing to participate or anyone wishing more information about the upcoming bell-ringing anniversary events can contact Kaleda at 939-0634.
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