U.S. Non-Profit Plans Remembrance For Bravo Nuclear Test

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60th anniversary of Marshalls detonation to be held in Arkansas

By Giff Johnson

MAJURO, Marshall Islands (Marianas Variety, Nov. 29, 2013) – A non-profit group in Northwest Arkansas is planning what it says is the first-ever event in the United States to mark the anniversary of the largest hydrogen bomb ever tested by the U.S. military.

"To commemorate the 60th anniversary of the devastating Castle Bravo nuclear detonation in the Marshall Islands, Marshallese Educational Initiative Inc., or MEI, is hosting a Nuclear Remembrance Day event on Feb. 28, 2014 at the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Arkansas," said organization co-founder April Brown on Thursday.

The event "will create the space to reflect on our nuclear legacy, honor survivors and victims, and educate the public about the global consequences of the use of nuclear weaponry," she said. The 15-megaton Bravo nuclear weapon, tested at Bikini Atoll in 1954, exposed thousands of Marshall Islanders to fallout. Islanders living on Rongelap Atoll were exposed to what has been likened to a "snow storm" of radioactive fallout a few hours after the test and have experienced high rates of thyroid tumors and cancers in the years since.

MEI was established earlier this year ago by Brown and Dr. Jessica Schwartz, who both reside in the NW Arkansas area where many thousands of Marshall Islanders now live.

MEI sponsors a variety of activities in Arkansas focused on raising awareness about issues related to the Marshall Islands. The Marshall Islander community living in NW Arkansas is reportedly the largest in the United States. The 2010 U.S. census reported over 4,000 Marshall Islanders living in the area.

Next year’s program to mark the Bravo test aims to incorporate "speeches, multimedia and artistic performances, and oral histories by survivors, scholars, cultural leaders, and government representatives," Brown said. She said she hopes it "will inspire cross-cultural respect and increase environmental awareness."

Brown said that while Nuclear Remembrance Day is commemorated in other nations around the world, including Japan and Australia, "ours will be the first held in the United States intended for a national and international audience."

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