Poignant symbol of hope dedicated in Lochgilphead

Gathering, with social distancing, on World Day of Peace to witness the dedication.

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On the World Day of Peace, January 1, St Margaret’s church in Lochgilphead held a special vigil at which Fr Ronald Campbell blessed the metal sculpture of a crane – an addition to the parish’s peace garden.

The death toll when the first atomic bomb was dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima in August 1945 was put at 70,000. In the years which followed, that death toll rose by thousands as people succumbed to radiation sickness.

Among those who died was Sadako Sasaki, a pupil at Hiroshima’s Noboricho Elementary School, who developed acute leukaemia 10 years after being exposed to the radiation.

While she was in hospital, she was inspired by the Japanese tradition that suggests if someone makes a thousand origami cranes, their wish will come true. Sadako’s final days were spent folding paper cranes – hoping she would recover.

After her death, her friends swore to build a monument in her honour, and their efforts led to the Children’s Peace Monument. Today, children around the world send more than 10 tonnes of paper cranes to the monument – more than the combined weight of Little Boy and Fat Man (the bomb dropped on August 9, 1945 on Nagasaki).

The paper cranes are recycled by Peace Minds Hiroshima and sent to children around the world with Sadako’s story, raising awareness of the need for peace and nuclear abolition.

Blessing the crane sculpture, Fr Ronald quoted from Pope Francis’ World Day of Peace statement: ‘How many resources are spent on weaponry, especially nuclear weapons, that could be used for more significant priorities such as ensuring the safety of individuals, the promotion of peace and integral human development, the fight against poverty, and the provision of health care.

‘Global problems like the present Covid-19 pandemic and climate change have only made these challenges all the more evident. What a courageous decision it would be to establish a “Global Fund” with the money spent on weapons and other military expenditures, in order to permanently eliminate hunger and contribute to the development of the poorest countries.’

Fr Ronald added: ‘On January 22, the treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons will enter into force. This is a milestone on the road to peace.

‘The crane was gifted to St Margaret’s peace garden by Pax Christi Scotland chairwoman Marian Pallister and crafted by Lochgilphead blacksmith Jack Campbell to remind us to continue to strive for peace, and as Pope Francis reminds us, “…to esteem the value and dignity of every person, to act together in solidarity for the common good, and to bring relief to those suffering from poverty, disease, slavery, armed conflicts, and discrimination”.’