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Stories of Hope-Barbara Reynolds

1963-1969: Working for Peace

 
In 1964 Barbara Reynolds helped coordiante the World Peace Study Mission, which included twenty-five hibakusha traveling around the world to share their message of "no more nuclear war."

After the learning experience of the first Peace Pilgrimage, Barbara decided that a similar project on a larger scale would be more effective. In 1964, she served as Foreign Liaison Coordinator for the World Peace Study Mission. This time twenty-five hibakusha, representing a variety of ages and occupations, were chosen for the trip, along with fifteen interpreters and coordinators. In April, the World Peace Study Mission left Hiroshima bound for eight nations, including all of the nuclear powers. Again, the hibakusha told their stories of suffering and spread hope for peace.


 
This poster, which shows pictures of patients from the A-Bomb Hospital and their prayers/wishes for "no more nuclear war" was carried by the World Peace Study Mission.


However, the responses to the World Peace Study Mission were mixed. Some audiences were receptive of the hibakusha. Other critics responded with anger at the focus on the Japanese as victims. The trip also left Barbara financially drained.

The Peace Pilgrimages came at a time when American peace activism was changing. It reached its peak during these years, and with the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty of 1963 quieting some fears of nuclear war, it became more difficult for anti-nuclear advocates to retain a following. The efforts of peace activists began to focus on Vietnam, and interest in Hiroshima and Nagasaki diminished. However, Barbara would not give up on what she now saw as her mission.

Barbara returned to Hiroshima in July. She and Earle divorced in August 1964, weakening their image in the eyes of their Japanese friends and admirers. After her divorce, she took a hiatus from Hiroshima and focused on finding religious answers.


One of Barbara's goals was to establish a place in Hiroshima to serve as a meeting center for those involved in peace activities. On August 7, 1965, the World Friendship Center was officially dedicated, with Barbara serving as director until 1968. The World Friendship Center would house visitors to Hiroshima, provide a meeting place for hibakusha and activists, coordinate volunteer efforts, and undertake many programs aimed at building peace.

In 1969, Barbara decided to return permanently to the United States. Before her departure, the city of Hiroshima presented her with a Key to the City. Her friends gave her a tearful farewell and she left for American soil.

“Now, as I prepare to return to my own country, I want to say to you, ‘Never believe that I will forget you, that I am disappointed or discouraged, that I will ever give up working for peace!’”

-Barbara Reynolds, Goodbye to Hiroshima

                                                     
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