On a recent trip to Japan, Leah Timberlake and her son visited Hiroshima. What they saw opened their eyes.
"It's a huge, big big modern city built up around it, so there's almost no evidence there except for the dome," Timberlake says.
The dome she refers to is one of the few visible reminders of life before the atomic bombing of Hiroshima 61 years ago. Timberlake was one of several presenters at the Unitarian Universalist. She says the experience taught her a great deal.
"The bomb was dropped without warning, whereas in other bombings the United States had done in Europe and Asia, there was some kind of advance notice," Timberlake says.
Timberlake was not the only presenter who had experienced Hiroshima first hand. Stanley Campbell visited his brother there over twenty years ago.
"I was surprised that the response from the civilians was not anger towards the United States but rather lifting themselves up, dusting themselves off," says Stanley Campbell, Executive Director of Rockford Urban Ministries.
Observances of the anniversary have been going on in Rockford for 25 years. This event featured songs, poems, and a presentation from Leah Timberlake about her visit to the city. Timberlake's message to the assembled crowd was simple.
"When injustices happen to us, that opens the door to hatred and hatred gives us the feeling that we're justified in hurting others," Timberlake says.
Members of the crowd left the event with mixed feelings. Some question if our country learned anything from that event.
"We have too much involvement in research and development with disregard in what is going on in the human aspect of it," says Richard Kanek, who attended today's event.
"There is this fear that if we don't have nuclear weapons, someone will attack us," Campbell says.
Every year on August 7th, the mayor of Hiroshima gives a speech called "The Peace Declaration" as a way to commemorate the atomic bombing.