THE ARRIVAL OF THE PEACE POLE
Some time ago, members of Valley Friends Meeting in Dayton, Virginia, were traveling through the U.S. on their way to Alaska. Throughout their trip, they noticed and were touched by several similar monuments, which they soon discovered were called Peace Poles.
When they returned home to Virginia, these Friends presented the idea to erect a Peace Pole in the local area, and their idea was enthusiastically received by Valley Friends. In 2006, a few from the Meeting created a beautiful wooden pole from locally obtained and milled locust wood. This Peace Pole now stands in front of the Valley Friends Meeting House on High Street in Dayton.
HOW WERE THE LANGUAGES CHOSEN?
Valley Friends researched the languages spoken in the Harrisonburg/Rockingham County region of Virginia. They chose the six most-spoken languages found in the local Harrisonburg High School in 2005-2006 as the first six languages for the Peace Pole.
Those languages are:
However, after much investigation, the use of Otomi (a language of people from the mountain region in Mexico) was reluctantly abandoned as there are many spoken variations of the language, it is seldom written, and a translation for the peace message in Otomi was difficult to produce. Consequently, the next most-spoken language was substituted for Otomiâ€”Ukranian. So the final list of languages for the first tier was:
After much discussion, the Meeting also chose a second tier of languages, representing the five major religions of the planet:
- Buddhism (represented by Chinese)
- Hinduism (represented by Hindi)
- Christianity (represented by Latin)
- Judism (represented by Hebrew)
- Islam (represented by Arabic)
The Meeting then added Paw Prints to symbolize love and respect for non-human neighbors, and this plaque also represents a major concern of Native Americans and other indigenous peoples. At the bottom of the Peace Pole is a brass plaque in Braille as well.
Thus the Valley Friends Peace Pole has 13 languages which proclaim our hope: “May Peace Prevail on Earth.”
PEACE POLE ORIGINS AND HISTORY
Peace Poles are usually wooden monuments that point heavenward declaring the prayer â€œMay peace prevail on earthâ€ in numerous languages. The first Peace Pole originated in Japan in 1955, in response to the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings.
Masahisa Goi, a Japanese poet, writer and philosopher, began the Peace Pole movement with the intention of spreading hope for peace around the world. Goi died in 1980, but his message has gained momentum and over 200,000 Peace Poles have been planted in 180 countries throughout the world.
The Peace Pole Project is under the auspices of the World Peace Prayer Society, a nonprofit, non-sectarian organization, which has its world headquarters in New York and is recognized as a nongovernmental organization associated with the Department of Public Information at the United Nations.
Peace Poles have been dedicated by many different leaders, including Pope John Paul II, Mother Teresa, the Dalai Lama, and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, as well as governors and mayors in many parts of the U.S. and the world who have planted Peace Poles to dedicate their states, cities and towns to world peace.
Peace Poles are in many different places. Some of the extraordinary locations include the Pyramids of El Giza in Egypt, the Magnetic North Pole in Canada, Gorky Park in Russia and Angkor Wat in Cambodia. Peace Poles are promoting healing of conflict in places like Sarajevo, the Atomic Bomb Dome in Hiroshima, and the Allenby Bridge on the border between Israel and Jordan. In the U.S., there are Peace Poles throughout the country, including the lobby of the U.N., the Pentagon, the World Bank, and many parks, gardens and church yards. Locally, there are Peace Poles at several area colleges.