Just before 5 PM on Tuesday evening, August 6, Woods Hole resident Olive C. Beverly’s ride dropped her off at the Falmouth Town Green with two signs and a folding chair.
The signs, which said, “August 6, Hiroshima, Never Again,” and “Never Ever Again Anywhere; Work for Peace and Peaceful Solutions,” were placed where passersby would see them.
Ms. Beverly, who turned 101 years old this May and was dressed in shorts and a cotton sweater over her summer blouse, sat quietly on her folding chair and said she hoped the day’s rain would abate for the next hour.
She was the first person to arrive for the annual vigil on the anniversary of the US military’s use of atomic bombs over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9, respectively, in 1945.
The first bomb killed some 70,000 people instantly. The second bomb killed some 40,000 instantly, and the death toll of those exposed to the radiation climbed for years afterward.
Ms. Beverly attends the vigil every year. Last year she was joined by two other women. This year the group swelled to nine.
Joanne S. Treistman of Falmouth was the next person to arrive and greeted Ms. Beverly warmly. Both women are members of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Falmouth.
When asked about the vigil’s origins, Judith G. Stetson of Woods Hole said it was started in the 1970s by the Falmouth Action for Nuclear Disarmament group during the “nuclear freeze” movement.
“I started attending this vigil in the 1970s with my kids. They are now in their 50s,” Ms. Treistman said.
Ms. Beverly said she was born on a Sunday. Her mother named her Olive because the olive branch is a symbol of peace.
As friends formed a semi-circle around her folding chair and held an umbrella over her head against the drizzle, Ms. Beverly explained that she has advocated for peace, and against war, all of her life.