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Rotary Club dedicates new monument in honor of International Peace Day

Brianna Moosa, a Seneca Valley student who attended a week-long Rotary event for high school students, speaks to the attendees of the Cranberry Township Sunrise Rotary Monument to Peace unveiling Wednesday, Sept. 21, at the Cranberry Township Municipal Center on International World Peace Day. Christine Border/Special to the Eagle

CRANBERRY TWP — A tradition that began in Japan nearly 40 years ago continues to make waves across the world.

Families and neighbors gathered Wednesday night to witness the Sunrise Rotary Club’s unveiling of a peace pole in honor of International Peace Day at Cranberry Municipal Center.

The event launched at 6 p.m. with a flag ceremony led by Cub Scout Troop 403. It culminated in the presentation of the peace pole monument, with the message “May Peace Prevail on Earth” written on each of its four sides in different languages: English, Spanish, Japanese and Hebrew.

Many attendees wrote their own wishes for peace on paper butterflies they pasted on the wall beside the pole.

“The Rotary Foundation has been committed to doing good in the world,” said Zachary Covington, Rotary Club leader. “As members of 1.4 billion people in the world, this means eradicating polio, providing sanitation, building shelter for the homeless or displaced, and yes, even sitting at the table of the United Nations.”

Covington described International Peace Day’s roots with the United Nations General Assembly, which designated the day in 1981 and voted unanimously to dedicate it as a day for non-violence and cease-fires worldwide.

"Peace is so much more than the absence of war," he added, describing how racism, poverty and disease also factored into the concerns of the holiday and the mission the coalition gathered was working to achieve.

Carlen Blackstone, who represented the Rotary Club's commitment to Peace Initiative, echoed this point.

She also expanded on how these other problems, which can compromise peace, often result from a lack of diversity.

"When I think about that fact that all of the conflict that occurs in the world today is, by and large, because people don't get along, because of their differences," she said. "If you look at every conflict, anywhere, it is because we are different. We have different perspectives. We have different locations that we live in.

“And if we are not intentional about trying to get to know those people who are different from us, we would be likely to surround ourselves by people who have the same perspective, who look like us, talk like us, live like us."

Blackstone, a former schoolteacher, added that diversity means all kinds of traits — ability, age, race, culture, gender, sexual identity. The Cranberry region, she said, has not changed as much as it could by way of diversity over the years, although she remained hopeful about the future.

Township Supervisor Mike Manipole, who praised Blackstone's speech overall, said he disagreed slightly about Cranberry’s diversity. However, he shared a similar position that diversity can come in all “kinds of packages.”

Manipole, who also has a teaching background, said ongoing crime and other crises gave International Peace Day renewed urgency.

“We all want peace and we’re all striving for the same thing,” he said. “Sometimes are peaceful gestures are rejected. But you know what? When you have faith in humanity and faith in your neighbors and faith in the people around you, humanity’s restored.”

Township Supervisor Mike Manipole engages with the attendees Wednesday, Sept. 21, about what simple gestures they can do day to day to create a peaceful world during the unveiling of Sunrise Rotary Club’s Monument to Peace. The event at the Cranberry Township Municipal Center marked International World Peace Day. Chistine Border/Special to the Eagle

Township Supervisor Mike Manipole said ongoing crime and other crises gave the ceremony renewed urgency.

“We all want peace and we’re all striving for the same thing,” he said. “Sometimes are peaceful gestures are rejected. But you know what? When you have faith in humanity and faith in your neighbors and faith in the people around you, humanity’s restored.”

Kiran Cherlakola, with the Cranberry Area Diversity Network, places a butterfly with ways that people can work together daily to create peace onto the wall of the Monument to Peace Wednesday, Sept. 21. The event at the Cranberry Township Municipal Center marked International World Peace Day. Christine Border/Special to the Eagle
Attendees of the Cranberry Township Sunrise Rotary's unveiling Wednesday, Sept. 21, of the Monument to Peace Pole left messages on the wall on butterfly's representing peace and diversity and how they can make their neighborhood's a more peaceful place. Christine Border/Special to the Eagle
Bill Shaner attends the Cranberry Sunrise Rotary unveiling Wednesday, Sept. 21, of the Monument to Peace Pole at the Cranberry Township Municipal Center on International World Peace Day. Christine Border/Special to the Eagle
Nate Covington reads excerpts Wednesday, Sept. 21, from The Peace Book to attendees of the Cranberry Township Sunrise Rotary Monument to Peace unveiling at the Cranberry Township Municipal Center on International World Peace Day. Christine Border/Special to the Eagle