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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, August 7, 2002

Teen leads walk to mark bombing of Hiroshima

The Rev. Daiya Amano conducts a purification ceremony for the Hiroshima Commemoration and Peace Service at the Peace Bell in front of the Izumo Taishakyo Mission downtown. Several groups marked the 57th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Japan with songs, prayers and hopes and wishes for peace.

Bruce Asato • The Honolulu Advertiser

By Kapono Dowson
Advertiser Staff Writer

Inspired by a determined teenager, nearly two dozen people trekked from Kane'ohe to downtown Honolulu yesterday in a peace march in observance of the 57th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.

Annie Elfing, a sophomore at Honolulu Waldorf High School, gathered about 15 friends for the 20-mile walk. A few Native Hawaiian activists and representatives from various groups advocating nonviolence marched with her.

Elfing, 15, had been inspired to organize the Hawai'i peace walk after returning from a five-month Hiroshima peace walk across much of the United States earlier this year. Buddhist Monks from Japan carried a burning ember that organizers said had been kindled in the Hiroshima atomic bomb explosion in 1945.

Taking off from school from January to May this year, the Kailua teen walked with the group from Seattle to New Mexico, rode a bus to Alabama, then walked to New York for a total of 2,000 miles. They visited nuclear sites across the nation as well as Native American communities.

"I learned so much on that walk, and it gave me so much hope for our future," Elfing said.

Her classmates encircled her as she hung around her neck a hand-lettered sign that read: "Hiroshima Day Peace Walk 2002."

"Annie's really great, really independent and really into this peace stuff," said Shahna Rohter, a classmate. "Just to know someone who did all this is inspirational. We're here for her."

"It's nice to see young people interested in peace," said Kailua resident JudyCremarosa, an adult escort for yesterday's walk who campaigned for Eugene McCarthy in the late '60s.

The nine-hour walk began near Marine Corps Base Hawai'i at Kane'ohe Bay, where the group listened to stories of the iwi kupuna (Hawaiian ancestral bones) unearthed to make way for the base.

They then walked across the Pali and to the Hiroshima Peace Bell at Izumo Taishakyo Mission on Kukui Street.

There, the Rev. Daiya Amano greeted and blessed the group and let Elfing ring the bell.

"When you believe in something, you should do something," Elfing said. "And I did."

Reach Kapono Dowson at kdowson@honoluluadvertiser.com or 535-8103.