AND WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION
"History is a reminder of what's possible." These were the words spoken by President George Bush as he emerged from a guided tour of the gas chambers at Auschwitz. The root word for Holocaust is "to burn whole." And it is of the U.S. roll in a holocaust, the genocide of the Marshallese, that we must also be reminded.
At the end of one of the bloodiest Pacific campaigns of World War II, the United States took over the Marshall Islands from Japan.
In 1946, before they inked the U.N. trusteeship agreement, the U. S. began a reign of terror on the Marshallese. The people of Bikini were told by a U.S. military officer that their atoll was needed for a project "and that if you give up your islands to benefit mankind so the U.S. can test their nuclear weapons we will take care of you" and the atolls would be returned once the testing was complete. It is safe to say, the Marshallese would never have consented to becoming "Nuclear Nomads" if the truth had been told that there would be sixty-seven (67) tests in all -conducted from June 30, 1946 to August 18, 1958.
From the inception of the U.S. nuclear program, government policy has placed military and scientific interests above the well being of the Marshallese. The decision to go forward with the Bravo test on March 1, 1954, knowing that the winds were blowing in the direction of inhabited atolls, was essentially a decision to irradiate the northern Marshall Islands, and moreover, to irradiate the people who were still living on them. The record of U.S. government lies, misrepresentation, and cover-ups to support its nuclear research program is incontrovertible.
Needless to say, the health of the people of the Marshall Islands and Micronesia, the plants, animals of their islands and surrounding waters were impacted by the bombs which were more than 10 times as powerful than the atomic and hydrogen bomb blasts of Hiroshima or Nagasaki. Consequently, women from these islands have suffered disproportionate numbers of miscarriages and births of severely deformed children and islanders continue to suffer high rates of cancer, tuberculosis and immune deficiency diseases and even leprosy. People and Islands were vaporized. There is a hole in the ocean where an Island use to be.
Is testing weapons of mass destruction so terrible that we pretend it didn't happen? We dedicate monuments, celebrate holidays and proclaim our everlasting debt to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. And what about those who have survived?
Today with a weak economy, we, the people of Hawaii, are impacted by the migration of Marshallese for their healthcare, educational and social services needs, as the federal government has fallen short on its promise to take care of these people. The responsibility has been shifted to Hawaii. Can we look the other way? If history is indeed a reminder of what's possible, can we afford to forget?