• Kyodo

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Relatives of people killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks and volunteers from Japan and overseas ended their “stone walk” Thursday in Hiroshima, completing a pilgrimage designed to commemorate all unknown civilian casualties of war.

Participants had taken a 700-kg memorial stone on their 600-km journey to honor the victims.

“We decided to have the stone walk in Japan on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the atomic bombings. The stone is special for the message of peace it brings . . . it was an incredible journey,” said Dot Walsh, 63, of Peace Abbey, one of two main groups that organized the march.

It is the first time the stone walk has been staged in Japan since the first walk was held in the United States in 1999.

Thus far, four walks have been organized, in the U.S., Britain and Ireland.

Margo Roman, 52, who has taken part before, said she was gripped with emotion when she thought about the instantaneous loss of civilian life in Hiroshima.

“In a war, everybody loses. Civilian and military families are destroyed,” said Roman, whose grandfather withdrew from his family after his son was killed in World War II.

The stone — on which the words “Unknown Civilians Killed In War” are engraved — was mounted on a cart and dragged from Nagasaki to Hiroshima. The journey began July 2.

The group walked through Saga, Fukuoka and Yamaguchi prefectures before wrapping up their journey with a closing ceremony Thursday afternoon at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.

Organizers hope the stone will be kept in Hiroshima.

The core group of the stone walk movement includes Peace Abbey, a multifaith retreat center, and September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, an advocacy group founded by relatives of some of those killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the U.S.

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