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From Horror to Healing: A May 22 Event with UUSC Partner Jo-Jikum

Join us for a unique webinar experience about a too-little-known part of U.S. nuclear history—and what our partners are doing about it today.

May 17, 2024

The Oscar-winning movie Oppenheimer portrayed some of the most famous, and notorious, episodes of U.S. nuclear history—but there are some disgraceful chapters of that history the film did not tell. For instance: how many of us in the theater seats ever learned that the United States also dropped nuclear bombs on the Marshall Islands—a group of 29 atolls in the Central Pacific Ocean that are home to thousands of people?

The nuclear weapons dropped on the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki killed hundreds of thousands of civilians—one of the worst war-time atrocities in history. But the U.S. nuclear program also harmed thousands of innocent people during “peacetime” testing, in the aftermath of the war. In the 1940s and 1950s, the U.S. government dropped no fewer than 67 atomic bombs on the Marshall Islands: 23 of them specifically on the Bikini Atoll. 

This catastrophic testing program not only displaced thousands of Indigenous residents of the atolls and wreaked havoc on the ecology of the area—it also left a legacy of environmental contamination that continues to this day. More than 70 years after the bombs fell, Marshallese people still face disproportionately high rates of cancer. Parts of the islands remain uninhabitable. And the region’s ecosystems have never recovered. 

This shameful legacy is far too little known—and all too easily forgotten—in the United States today. Even as millions of U.S. moviegoers went to see a movie about the history of atomic weapons, few have reflected on the impact these bombs had on innocent civilians who were exposed to nuclear radiation—both in Japan and in the Marshall Islands.

Jo-Jikum, UUSC’s partner in the Marshall Islands, is seeking to change this. They are working to shed light on this legacy and honor the experience of people the U.S. nuclear program affected. On March 1—a national day of commemoration in the Marshall Islands known as Nuclear Victims Remembrance Day—Jo-Jikum hosted an enthralling art exhibition and open mic to share the stories of people the U.S.’s nuclear legacy has displaced and harmed. 

On May 22, UUSC supporters and all members of the public have a chance to deepen their knowledge of this history and its implications for today. Staff members from Jo-Jikum will join UUSC for a unique webinar experience. Together, they will discuss the art exhibition, the ongoing work of Jo-Jikum—and the obligation the United States bears to the Marshallese people now, for inflicting generations of loss, displacement, and injustice on the islands. 

Join us for this unique opportunity to reflect on a too-little-known part of history, and how our partners are working to address it today. You can sign up here to receive Zoom information to join the webinar on May 22. We hope to see you there. If we do not learn from the lessons of the past, we will be condemned to repeat them. No one should ever lose their homes, lives, or ways of life because of the irresponsible use of deadly weapons.

Image credit: Jo-Jikum

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