The Atomic Flame
From Mercury News. Posted without comment:
By the time the monks reached San Jose's Japantown on Sunday afternoon, the bright red lantern they were carrying had traveled more than 5,700 miles, illuminated by a fire that has burned for nearly 60 years.
The so-called ``atomic flame'' is a remnant of the inferno that scorched Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, the day a U.S. bomber dropped the ``Little Boy'' nuclear bomb upon the Japanese city.
Now, a handful of Buddhist monks are bringing the flame back to its origin. During the next 3 1/2 weeks, they will carry the flame south and west, passing through California, Arizona and part of New Mexico until they reach the Trinity Site at White Sands Missile Range, where the world's first nuclear weapon was detonated on July 16, 1945.
The monks, dressed in traditional robes and rope sandals, set out from San Francisco on Saturday morning, the 60th anniversary of the test. They plan to reach the test site on Aug. 9, the day the atomic bomb known as ``Fat Man'' exploded over Nagasaki. ``In the eastern calendar, 60 is the end of a cycle,'' said the Rev. Keishi Miyamoto, one of the Japanese monks, as he prepared to begin the journey across the American West. ``I would like to bring the flame back to the place it came from and extinguish it in the hope that there won't be another use of nuclear weapons ever again.''
Over the past 60 years, monks have walked back and forth between Nagasaki and Hiroshima, praying for peace and disarmament.
The Rev. Daijo Ohta, Zen Master of the Kotaiji Monastery in Nagasaki, recounted how the flame originally was preserved by a man who had returned to Hiroshima after the bombing and found his uncle's home incinerated and his family dead. Tatsuo Yamamoto took embers from the fire to a nearby village, Hoshinomura, or Village of Stars, where his grandmother used them to kindle a flame to illuminate the family's Buddhist altar.
It has been burning ever since.