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Mayors for Peace reception at John Catsimatidis home with Michael Douglas and Yoko Ono

Catsimatidis, Yoko Ono, Tadatoshi Akiba, Michael Douglas, Shigeko Sasamori
Over eighty mayors, city officials, staff and donors took part in the Mayors for Peace Reception on May 4th in New York, hosted by John and Margo Catsimatidis at their Fifth Avenue apartment. Special guests of the reception were Michael Douglas and Yoko Ono, who endorsed Mayors for Peace and its 2020 Vision Campaign.
At first, Steve Leeper, Chairperson of the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation, introduced Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba, President of Mayors for Peace, who thanked the attendees for their interest and commitment toward nuclear disarmament. It was an occasion for Mayor Akiba to reaffirm his strong ties with America and the American people, established as a high school and college student, and during his academic career. Mayor Akiba also mentioned the growing relationship with the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM), the official nonpartisan organization of US cities with populations of 30.000 or more. In his speech, he quoted Pope John Paul II, who said: “To remember the past, is to commit ourselves to the future”. He concluded his speech with an appeal to get rid of nuclear weapons by 2020.
Michael Douglas also spoke out in favor of nuclear disarmament by 2020, stressing his Belarusian origins and the fact that his ancestral home was downwind from Chernobyl. He has been personally involved in this issue for 40 years. He underlined the fact that he was born in 1944, one year before the A-bombs exploded in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and that he was told at school that if there was “a bright, white flash, to crawl under the desk”. He concluded by saying: “The issue about nuclear disarmament by 2020 is so important – we are racing against time”.
Yoko Ono showed her long-term peace activism by delivering a speech that she entitled “Power to the People”. Her concerns were expressed by the following words: “What can we do to stop Hiroshima and Nagasaki from being repeated again to destroy the lives on this planet? This time, it will not be two cities. It will be the world”. For Ms Yoko Ono, the role of civil society remains critical in addressing the issue of nuclear disarmament: “It is up to us to do something about it. There is no big powers we can count on. In such a historical moment, it is very important that the tragedy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki be brought up again as a reminder of what can happen to the world if we forget, and fall back to the world of darkness”. In her conclusion, she brought a message of hope by saying: “One day, not too far in the future, we will see ourselves living peacefully and having fun together on this planet without War. Let’s look forward to that day and start working intelligently, to make it happen. Clearly, if the whole world stood up and spoke out for World Peace, we’ll get it”.
Other guests included the famous academic activist Jonathan Schell, Chris Cox, grandson of Richard Nixon, Jaimie Colby, correspondent and anchor at Fox News Channel, and Jim Luce of the Huffington Post. The reception was also an occasion to raise funds for the 2020 Vision Campaign: around 40.000 dollars were collected from an auction and private donations.
The last intervention was made by Shigeko Sasamori, a hibakusha, one of the 25 girls known as the “Hiroshima Maidens” that were brought to New York by Norman Cousins for reconstructive surgery. Her speech as a survivor was powerful and inspiring. She recalled the moments when the A-bomb exploded and buried one quarter of her body, and brought destruction in the whole city of Hiroshima: “I saw the airplane. There was a beautiful blue sky. Then I felt a force that knocked me down. None of us could breath. All of our clothes blew off. One-fourth of my body was burned, but I felt nothing. I was in shock. Then I saw how horrible everyone was around me. Such horrible stories. It still makes me cry to talk about it. My friend was alive but half of her body was buried by a burning home. Her mother could not save her and had to say goodbye to go save her other two children”. Ms Shigeko Sasamori was able to come to American. She had been told that Americans were monsters, “but they were very kind to me. They looked different, but their hearts were the same. So many Americans apologized to me, but I said: For what? You did not do this to me! Don’t be sorry”. Hibakushas are not looking for revenge, and with their wisdom they give a testimony of what happened, to make sure that nobody ever allows to drop a bomb on humans again. The final appeal is the one that completely shows the sense of our Campaign: “The world is headed for destruction if we cannot abolish nuclear weapons. Thanks to Mayors for Peace headed by Mayor Akiba — with support from thought leaders such as John Catsimatidis, Michael Douglas, and Yoko Ono — we have a chance. Give peace a chance. Join their voices in the call for nuclear disarmament by 2020!”

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