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BRATTLEBORO — A small group of activists marched down Main Street in protest of nuclear weapons and excessive military spending, calling attention to the 75th anniversary of America's bombing of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagaski during World War II.

"It's 100 seconds to midnight and you would think it's 100 years to midnight," longtime activist Daniel Sicken of Putney said, referring to the danger of nuclear weapon detonation. "It's just not on people's minds."

Elizabeth Wood of New Leaf CSA in Dummerston invited fellow activists to Sunday's demonstration. An estimated 125 events with about 6,000 participants happened globally as part of Peace Wave, an initiative to highlight opposition to nuclear weapons on the anniversary of the bombings.

About 11 people showed up Sunday at the Brattleboro Common to march to the Brattleboro Food-Coop. Being unsure of interest in the days leading up to the event, Eesha Williams called the turnout "great."

"Peace isn't even trending and we got some people," said Kurt Daims of Brattleboro.

Jeff Scott of Chesterfield, N.H., a Vietnam War veteran who brought his dog Tessa, said he isn't seeing enough activism these days.

"It seems to wax and wane just like the moon," he said.

He's gone peace vigils in Keene, N.H., since they started about 19 years ago. He said people aren't aware "we're still at war," referring to the War in Afghanistan, which started in 2001. He also participates in Black Lives Matter protests.

Bill Pearson of Brattleboro, another longtime activist, served in Peace Corps from 1960 and 1965. He said he came away from that experience thinking if there were as many Peace Corps volunteers as soldiers, "the world would be in much better shape."

Pearson held a sign saying: "War is not the answer." Included was information on how to sign a petition calling for the creation of a federal department of peace.

"People don't know what's going on," Pearson said.

Mark Mayer of Brattleboro brought his four children who all brought signs and showed a lot enthusiasm for the cause. He said he feels strongly that "a nuclear free world would be a better world."

The U.S. shouldn't be spending money on bombs, said his daughter Iris Mayer, 10.

"It's stupid," she said, believing that money would be better spent on people who are starving or homeless. "That's the point of a government, isn't it?"

She attends Green Street School in Brattleboro, previously participated in a protest for climate change and recently penned a book about the Black Lives Matter movement.

Daims held a sign saying: "Japan was helpless before we bombed." He described the country as having no army or air force and not much a navy at the time of the bombing, comparing the act to beating someone up badly then invading their home.

It's "a great myth" in the U.S. that the bombing was necessary to save lives, Daims said, adding that some people insist it was needed in order to test the weapons. Every Aug. 6, he tries to write a letter about the event.

"The anti-war and nuclear weapons movements, of which I was an active participant in the 80s and 90s, today do not seem to be much on the minds of the younger folks that will be required to keep them going," Sicken wrote in a letter to the editor published in the Reformer last month. "But I have not given up hope, since they can still be revitalized by arising out of the change that will be necessary to address our climate and the COVID-19 pandemic."

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com and at @CMaysBR on Twitter.


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