The organizers for the August 6 event are Maine Veterans for Peace, Peace Action Maine, and Physicians for Social Responsibility – Maine Chapter. PeaceWorks of Brunswick, Maine and Pax Christi Maine are co-sponsors.
Dr. Lown, who died in 2021, was the famous cardiologist who invented the DC defibrillator and who, with Soviet cardiologist Eugene Chazov, co-founded the group International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War in 1980. (See https://www.ippnw.org/). Under the auspices of that organization, physicians worldwide joined in campaigning for a moratorium on nuclear weapons. Drs Lown and Chazov together received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985.
Bernard Lown immigrated from Lithuania with his family, and studied at Lewiston High School and the University of Maine before entering medical school. He was a co-founder in 1961 of Physicians for Social Responsibility. He served as that group’s first president.
Former Mayor Gilbert, a member of Florida and Maine Veterans for Peace and friend of Bernard Lown, has guided arrangements for the upcoming event. He, with Allen Harvie, led efforts in 2008 to recognize Bernard Lown and carry out Allen Harvie’s idea of renaming the former South Bridge to honor Dr. Lown. Involved in that project were the Lewiston and Auburn City Councils, the Maine State Legislature, and former Governor John Baldacci.
Doug Rawlings, an organizer of the gathering this year on August 6, recalled recently that, “When we formed Veterans for Peace in 1985 here in Maine, we were, and still are, thinking of the children whose lives are impacted by war. Many of us, as veterans, looked into the eyes of these children. On August 6, 1945, the bomb was dropped on the children of Hiroshima at 8:15AM, just as they were settling into their classrooms.”
According to Rawlings, “peace cranes” will be available to people attending on August 6. These origami paper cranes represent the story of Sadako Sasaki, a Japanese child-victim of the bombing. They have become a worldwide peace symbol.
Fair warning: organizers require that attendees wear protective facial masks inside the Gendron Franco Center. They will be provided.