Symbols of Peace in the Secret Cities of the Manhattan Project

Born in secrecy for the Manhattan Project, the communities of Richland, Washington, Los Alamos, New Mexico, and Oak Ridge, Tennessee represent the extraordinary lengths to which people and nations go to protect their futures. Living in hastily constructed communities and surrounded by security, residents knew they were helping the war effort, but most had no idea they were contributing to the development of the world’s first atomic weapons until the end of the war.

More than 200,000 people died by the end of 1945 as a direct result of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan on August 6 and 9, 1945. After World War II ended, Japan and the United States worked faithfully to move toward peace. In the decades since the end of World War II, the two countries have evolved from bitter enemies to close allies. Along the way, many expressions of friendship have been shared between the two countries. The Manhattan Project communities each have their own examples of peace and friendship between the two countries.
Color photo of small bell hanging from curved black stand, a small package is at left of bell
Richland, Washington's Bell of Peace

Jim Stoffels

In Richland, Washington on August 7, 1982, a local community group, World Citizens for Peace, hosted the first commemoration of the atomic bombings in Richland. In 1985, World Citizens for Peace wrote to Iccho Itoh, the mayor of Nagasaki requesting an object from Nagasaki to symbolize reconciliation. Mayor Iccho Itoh replied to the request with a letter stating, "We would like to cooperate in your Peace Memorial ... by presenting your city with a model of the ‘Bell of Peace’ ... which is a symbol of peace in our city. The original Bell was recovered ... from the ruins of Urakami Catholic Church, and rung everyday to console the survivors of that catastrophe. It rings out now from the steeple of the reconstructed church, and a model of it is on display in Peace Park near the hypocenter of the atomic bomb explosion."

On August 3, 1985, the 40th anniversary of the atomic bombings, Richland Mayor Pro Tem Bob Ellis accepted the Bell of Peace from Nagasaki on behalf of the City of Richland saying, “Truly, I am touched by the gift from the mayor of Nagasaki and the people of his city. I think the desire for peace is universal in the hearts of mankind." A local commemoration recognizing the atomic bombings is held each year on August 9, and the Bell of Peace from Nagasaki is rung. The Bell of Peace is on display year-round in the Richland Public Library.
Four images of seeds, each labeled. Clockwise brown, brown, black, white.
Green Legacy Hiroshima seeds

Los Alamos Historical Society

During the Manhattan Project, Los Alamos developed the atomic weapons dropped on Japan in August 1945 and forever linked the World War II histories of these three cities. Founded in 2016, the Los Alamos Japan Project fosters dialogue between the Los Alamos History Museum, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial, and the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum. The Los Alamos Japan project focuses on, “Creating understanding through shared history, partnerships, dialogue, multiple perspectives, and collaboration. The effort to understand viewpoints, norms, and values that differ from our own will benefit us with increased knowledge of people, places, and the world.”

One way the Los Alamos Japan Project is doing this is by cultivating second-generation seeds of trees that survived the atomic bomb blast in Hiroshima. In 2017, Los Alamos Japan Project received four varieties of second-generation atomic bomb tree seeds from Green Legacy Hiroshima; an organization committed to spread worldwide the seeds and saplings of Hiroshima’s atomic bomb survivor trees and messages of peace and resilience. Los Alamos Japan Project is cultivating these historic saplings for future planting around the Los Alamos History Museum campus.
Photo of large bronze bell hanging from concrete structure. The ground is a circular, concrete walkway in an outdoor park.
International Friendship Bell, Oak Ridge, Tennessee


From 1992-1993, Oak Ridge, Tennessee celebrated the 50th anniversary of the founding of Oak Ridge. Ram and Shigeko Uppuluri wanted to recognize this important anniversary with a fitting 50th birthday gift to the city. Their wish led to a friendship bell as a monument to the reconciliation and peace that flourished after the war. Designed by a local Oak Ridge artist and cast by a family foundry in Kyoto Japan, the bell stands nearly seven feet tall and five feet wide. Known today as the International Friendship Bell, it is a symbol of unity and will carry the message of peace and international friendship into the future. The International Friendship Bell is located in the Peace Pavilion in A.K. Bissel Park in Oak Ridge.

Explore Oak Ridge. “International Friendship Bell.” Explore Oak Ridge, January 23, 2020.
Los Alamos Historical Society. “Los Alamos / Japan Project.” Los Alamos History , 2020.
Stoffels, Jim. World Citizens for Peace and The Bomb, April 2005.

Manhattan Project National Historical Park

Last updated: August 11, 2020