The July opening of the film Oppenheimer, on the so-called ‘father’ of the atomic bomb, brought out peace activists opposed to nuclear weapons and alarmed by threats in Ukraine from both the use of nuclear weapons — and an accident at the 6 reactor Zaporizhzhia power plant.

In both Greenfield and Hadley, activists offered movie-goers printed information on aspects not addressed in the film’s very personalized version of atomic history. A major shortcoming was its failure to mention the deadly radiation spewed widely by bomb tests and the destruction of the civilian cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan.

A strong analysis of atomic disasters visited upon local and indigenous communities in the Southwest and beyond camefrom Native American musician and activist Klee Benally, in his article Architect of Annihilation: Oppenheimer’s Deadly Legacy of Nuclear Terror in which he wrote: “The genocidal colonial terror of nuclear energy and weapons is not entertainment. To glorify such deadly science and technology as a depoliticized dramatic character study, is to spit in the face of hundreds of thousands of corpses and survivors scattered throughout the history of the so-called Atomic age.”

To which Traprock’s Pat Hynes reacted: “The article captures a large part of my discomfort with the Oppenheimer film.  And makes me glad that we had a table at the theater with articles that expose the horrors of atomic weapons, which the film does not.  Rather, it romanticizes the victim of McCarthyite scrutiny regarding his security status and creates a halo-effect around Oppenheimer’s quantum mechanics brilliance. The effects of the bomb are overlooked and overshadowed by his personal drama.”

Traprock/Franklin County for Peace member Emily Greene was among those at the Garden Cinema: “I’ve seen Oppenheimertwice while tabling to raise awareness of the horror of nuclear weapons. Over the (opening) weekend well over 50 people stopped by our table for information. Yes, it is sad that Oppenheimer jumped into the horror of war destruction, but it’s time we increased awareness and oppose all weapons of war and violence that plague our world and our streets.”

Now activists are preparing annual commemorations of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima, on August 6, 1945, and then Nagasaki three days later. 

Two area events will offer people the opportunity to stand up for peace and against nuclear weapons:

In Greenfield the commemoration will take place on the Town Common on Saturday, August 5, during the weekly 11 am to noon vigil. After a solemn start, vigil participants will display signs opposing war and nuclear weapons, as well as calling for negotiations to end the war in Ukraine and opposing NATO. Passersby can sign stamped postcards to Senators Warren and Markey encouraging them to support the US signing the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

In Easthampton On Wednesday, August 9th, join local children and New England Peace Pagoda* monks in launching lanterns for peace on Nashawannuck Pond in commemoration of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and in silent protest against nuclear weapons and war.    

Participants will meet at the Easthampton Public Library, 9 Park Street, at 5:30 pm and walk to the Pond to launch the lanterns the children have decorated. The Library will have a display of books on this topic during the month of August.

For other commemorations across the state see

Peace Pagodas were built as a symbol of peace in Japanese cities including Hiroshima and Nagasaki where the atomic bombs took the lives of over 150,000 people, almost all of whom were civilian, at the end of World War II. By 2000, eighty Peace Pagodas had been built around the world in Europe, Asia, and the United States.