Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Bikini Atoll's Flag: A Geography of Sadness

The flag of Bikini Atoll features main signs of a geography of sadness.  Image from Wikipedia.
In 1954 the United States tested a 15 megaton hydrogen bomb, at the time it was by far the largest nuclear device ever detonated, on Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands. The fallout forced the United States to prevent islanders from returning to their homes.

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In 1987, islanders and the descendants of islanders adopted the above flag to represent their home.  The flag includes several key geographic elements representing their sadness over the loss of home.
  • The flag purposefully models itself after the flag of the United States.  The islanders link themselves to the United States due to their belief that the United States owes them a significant debt.
  • The twenty three stars represent the twenty three islands of the atoll.
  • The three black stars at the top right represent the three islands which were physically altered by the bomb blast.
  • The two black at the bottom right separate from the other stars represent Kili Island and Majuro Atoll, the two locations the islanders were resettled on.

The text, MEN OTEMJEJ REJ ILO BEIN ANIJ, translates to "Everything is in the hands of God."  It is the response Juda, leader of the Binkini islanders, said to Admiral Ben Wyatt when he asked the islanders to allow the United States to use the island for the "betterment of mankind."


Stephanie Wyatt said...

Ben Wyatt was my Uncle. I know this stuff at Bikini haunted him for the rest of his life. Never got the entire story, but I don't think he was ever happy about how the people of the Islands were treated. I think he felt lied to by the Navy, and we k ow the people of the Islands were. The whole thing is sad, IMHO.

Catholicgauze said...

Thanks for the comment. I can imagine your uncle's feelings, so deep on the issue. Thanks again.