On the International Day of Peace, around 80 Flagstaff locals gathered on Friday evening at Heritage Square in downtown along with Hopi Tribal Council vice chairman Clark Tenakhongva and Mayor Coral Evans to dedicate the city’s newest Peace Pole.
The six-sided, bronze-colored obelisk stands 12 feet tall and is internally lit. Each side reads “May peace prevail on Earth” in a different language, with the languages being Hopi, Navajo, English, Spanish, Japanese and Braille. Local metal artist Howie Hearn created the piece.
Rebecca Durrenberger, one of the organizers of Flagstaff Peace Day, wanted the pole to make people realize that peace is up to them.
“I hope that everybody that sees this is aware that peace starts within and that they need to interact in a positive, companionate and non-violent way with everyone else,” said Durrenberger.
Hopi vice chairman Tenakhongva spoke to the crowd and hoped the pole would help bring people together. He explained the Hopi themselves are traditionally peaceful, with the literal translation of the word being “the peaceful ones.”
“You can probably go throughout the United States and find more nationals that are more warrior-like, but that was never the mission of the Hopi,” said Tenakhongva.
He went on to challenge the crowd to spread peace not only on the holiday but on every other day of the year as well.
Mayor Coral Evans then took the microphone to officially dedicate the Peace Pole by reading the city’s official proclamation.
“Whereas, Flagstaff citizens join millions of people in every country in the world on this United Nations designated International Day of Peace,” said Evans. “Peace awareness is promoted through public education, group discussions, disbursement of information regarding conflict resolution, peaceful handling of misunderstanding and increased tolerance of others.”
The pole is not the first located in Flagstaff, with the others at the Quaker Meeting House, the Chamber of Commerce, the Flagstaff Federated Community Church, the Historic Ice House and on NAU near the University Union.
The languages were chosen due to them being the prevalent languages spoken in the Northern Arizona area, except for one. Japanese was chosen as the tradition of erecting Peace Poles originated in Japan following World War II.
Japanese philosopher and poet Masahisa Goi started the Peace Pole tradition in 1955 after witnessing the carnage of World War II.
Since then, Peace Poles have appeared in every country around the world. International Peace Day celebrations continue Sept. 22 with a 7 a.m. walk starting at Heritage Square.