The effort was symbolized by a peace pole that stands in the prayer garden at the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Antioch. The third of its kind in the city, the pole is a hand-crafted monument inscribed with “May peace prevail on earth” in several languages.
“This is a grassroots effort of the people to tell the leaders of the world that we want peace,” said Lonnie Bristow, coordinator of the Peace Pole Project.
The pole was dedicated in a rousing celebration that featured performances by local music and dance groups.
“We need to look into everything we can as a community,” said Antioch Mayor Jim Davis. “It’s great for people to come together, pray and sing.”
Established by a United Nations resolution in 1981, the International Day of Peace encourages individuals, organizations and nations to inspire and enact peace on the same day.
As members of Deer Valley High School’s Divine Voices sang “We are the World” with other local performers, the message of peace was heard loud and clear. “If we can promote peace in everything we say, think and do for one day, why can’t we do it every day?” asked Thomas Bonacci, director of the nonprofit Interfaith Peace Project aimed at providing home and local-based education programs to persons and groups interested in developing or enhancing their appreciation of the faith traditions of the world.
Alex Louie of the Deer Valley Divine Voices felt at peace as he exited the dedication while still singing. “Today was especially fun,” Louie said. “We love to come out and spread joy wherever we go.”
The White Horse Youth Chorale started the dedication, which also included performances by the Hilltop Christian School Hand Bell Ringers and Treble Choir, the Dance Troupe, Missionary Singers and Youth Choir of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the We Mime Ministry of the Grace Bible Fellowship of Antioch, the Antioch Idols and Jaspreet Rasia, who sang Indian classical and Sufi music.
“We just love music, and to be able to come out to the community and perform for them fills us with joy,” said Greg Brown of the Deer Valley Divine Voices.
Outside the event, the vibrant yellow pole stood out even as darkness fell.
Prompted in part by the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan in 1945, the Peace Pole Project was founded in 1955 by Masahisa Goi. Today, at least 100,000 poles have been placed around the world in more than 180 countries.
Locally, poles have also been planted at St. Ignatius of Antioch Catholic Church in 2010 and Antioch City Hall in 2011.
For more information about the Peace Pole Project, visit www.peacepoleproject.org.