Nuclear Victims Remembrance Day kicked off with a “march for justice” led by Marshall Islands President David Kabua, Parliament members and US Embassy Charge d’Affaires Rachael Doherty Monday in Delap.
Trailing behind the leaders were hundreds of students and government and non-government entities bearing posters and signs echoing the ongoing pain and memory of those affected by US nuclear tests.
Some posters showed hints of light humor like “I miss Bikini beach and I’m sure Bikini beach misses me” or the “I can’t keep calm like a bomb,” poster. Other signs were depressing: “I had seven miscarriages etc…” and “74 years of exile from my homeland.”
VIP remarks were conveyed followed by the raising of the Marshall Islands flag to half-mast and a rendition of the national anthem by Majuro Deaf Education Center students.
The conclusion of the program featured winning speeches by high school students who competed in the program’s essay contest.
Shiyi Mimi Wang from Majuro Cooperative School had several people teary-eyed following an emotional recital of her first place essay.
Marshall Islands High School third place winner Rosie Anmontha also took to the podium with a powerful speech.
Rixie Paul from MIHS won second place in the competition but wasn’t present.
The theme of Nuclear Victims Remembrance Day was “We will not forget and we will not deterred.”
For the first time in Nuclear Victims Remembrance Day ceremonies in the Marshall Islands, a group of the American Army veterans who participated in the nuclear cleanup at Enewetak Atoll were honored.
Certificates of gratitude were sent out to 79 of the Enewetak clean up veterans and their families. The certificates were signed by President David Kabul and Enewetak Nitijela representative Jack Ading.
“This is awarded on behalf of the people and Government of the Republic of the Marshall Islands for your valiant effort to contain the radiation at Enewetak Atoll in hopes of providing the people of Enewetak with a safe place to reside, and a reduced risk of radiation exposure,” said the text of the award honoring the American Atomic Veterans. “The RMI Government is profoundly sorry for the health sacrifices of the clean up workers; we join you in solidarity in trying to secure acknowledgment and care for your health challenges.”
In addition to honoring the Americans who worked at Enewetak, the Marshall Islands recognized Cathy Wakefield and Emma Gulibert for their service with the Nuclear Claims Tribunal since 1991.
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