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LI peace groups remember Hiroshima, Nagasaki

Symbolizing peace, Mychiko Tani of Port Washington, pins

Symbolizing peace, Mychiko Tani of Port Washington, pins an origami crane on Brigitte Mueller of Port Washington at a rememberance of the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock in Manhasset. (Aug. 8, 2012) Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

It's been 30 years since about a million protesters descended on Central Park, demanding an end to the nuclear arms race.

Some of those marchers gathered Wednesday night at a Manhasset church to reflect on that day -- and mark the anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki 67 years ago this week.

The church screened "In Our Hands," a documentary of the June 1982 march, hoping to rekindle interest in the message behind the massive protest.

" 'Freeze now,' that was the cry," said Robert Richter, the film's director. "But that doesn't seem to be happening these days. I don't know if it's apathy or despondency."

Claudia McGuire, 61, was a staffer at the peace rally and rode the train in from Bellport, where she still lives today. She and other Long Island protesters, she said, filled at least six LIRR cars.

"They were very peaceful," she said. "It was a wonderful day. . . . I think that we really believed that we could disarm the world."

The atomic bombings remembrance has been held for 40 years, said Shirley Romaine, of Great Neck SANE/Peace Action, which sponsored the event held at Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock. The church's social justice committee and the Long Island Alliance for Peaceful Alternatives were co-sponsors.

This was the first year the peace groups have screened Richter's documentary.

"June 12, 1982, was a magical day," Romaine said of the New York City march. "We have to really get moving again."

During the event, Jon Kaiman, North Hempstead Town supervisor, recalled his youth as a peace activist while an undergraduate at Hofstra University in the early 1980s.

"I participated, I showed up," he said, before issuing a plea for nonviolence. "We almost always find that peaceful alternatives tend to trump the violent alternatives."

Richter, who is 82 and lives in Manhattan, has another documentary in the works. It's about the survivors of the Japanese nuclear power plants damaged in last year's tsunami and earthquake.

He said he was excited about his anti-nuke documentary being screened Wednesday.

"I hope they see how people back then were inspired to do something, and will be motivated to want to do the same kind of thing today," he said.

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