By Owen Lee, Staff Writer
On September 21, at 1:00 p.m., students and staff gathered in a ceremony to promote peace on earth, in an event called the International Day of Peace. About 50 people attended the event, which occurred at the UMass Dartmouth Peace Pole in front of the MacLean Campus Center.
This year, the event has extra significance, as a plaque honoring the Peace Pole is about to be added, along with a lamp to illuminate the pole at night.
The Peace Pole is a symbol of the event, a short, four-sided pole with the words “May Peace Prevail on Earth” written on it in eight different languages, including Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Wampanoag, Chinese, Cape Verdean Creole, and English.
There are over 100,000 peace poles in over 180 countries internationally, and each pole is rededicated on September 21 every year. The new plaque will inform passersby of the significance of the Peace Pole, and identify the languages written on its sides. The additions to the pole were designed by Crystal Bradwin, the school’s own architect.
The event is organized each year by Deirdre Healy, the Director of the Office of Community Service & Partnerships.
The ceremony had speakers like Rev. Robert Lawrence, Deacon Frank Lucca, Rabbi Jackie Satlow, and our new Chancellor, Dr. Robert Johnson, each one commemorating the event with their own thoughts and words.
Hymns were sung by UMass’s Divine Sacred Word Gospel Choir, and the African Drumming Corps performed as well. The UMass Dartmouth Peace Dove, a puppet built in honor of Jane Goodall’s visit to UMass in 2016, was also present. A moving solo vocal performance was sung by Caiana Luse, doing a rendition of the hymn “Precious Lord,” and the event closed with Professor Aminda O’Hare of the Psychology Department leading a peaceful group meditation.
Peace Day was established in 1981 by a United Nations resolution to create an international day where the hope for world peace can be reflected on. Symbolically, this day represents the perseverance of the idea of world peace and equality across barriers of language, culture, and race. UMass Dartmouth began celebrating the Day of Peace when it was gifted the Peace Pole in 2010 by the United Neighbors of Fall River, a community advocacy group. It was planted on September 21 of that year, and has been rededicated every year since.
LaSella Hall, Associate Director of the Frederick Douglass Unity House, who helped organize and publicize the event, was very pleased by the event, and the new plaque. “I was elated.” He tells The Torch, “It’s a time for us to say, ‘we need peace.’ Around the world, in our campus, in our sister cities of Dartmouth and Fall River, there is a lot of violence. When we stand together, we say, ‘no group shall be persecuted.’”
Deirdre Healy also spoke to us: “We were gifted a peace pole by the United Neighbors of Fall River. Once we got it, we had to decide what the most appropriate day [would be] to plant it, and we naturally chose Peace Day. Eventually it evolved into rededicating the peace pole every year. We collaborate with the Unity House, the Foreign Language Department, and the school choir every year.” When asked about the significance of Peace Day, she told us: “I guess the meaning and feeling we want people to take away is that peace is possible.”