Monroeville’s Peace Pole Installation Ceremony

By Praveen and Pratheema Kumar, Monroeville, PA

Note:  Praveen, with his background in computer science, is pursuing his PhD program in machine learning while working in the same field. His passion are sports car and coffee. Pratheema, an electrical engineer, works for a semiconductor company.  She loves cooking, baking and dancing.  She has learned Bharatanatyam.  They live in Monroeville.

If anyone wanted to have an outdoor event in our area, July 31st, 2021 was the day — azure sky with patches of white clouds slowly drifting, temperatures in the 70s and gentle breeze.  The Rotary Club of Monroeville could not have chosen a better day for dedicating their Peace Pole, reminding us of the importance of peace in this world!  Around 150 people from diverse backgrounds joined in the celebrations. 

Theravada Buddhist Monks doing the peace invocation

Peace Poles, fabricated with different materials, are internationally recognized symbols of the hopes and dreams of humanity, standing vigil in silent prayer for peace on earth. 

In the wake of the Second World War, Masahisa Goi of Japan 1955 in Japan, came up with the idea of installing Peace Poles. The first few Peace Poles outside Japan came in 1983. Since then, more than 250,000 Peace Poles are in over 190 countries. The central theme in the monument is the message “May Peace Prevail on Earth.”

Rich Fitzgerald addressing the gathering

Rich Fitzgerald, County Executive of Allegheny County, was the special guest for the event. Mr. Fitzgerald said Pittsburgh is a city that is very diverse and has been welcoming people of all backgrounds and nationalities for several decades and will continue to do so in the future. Moments like these give us time to pause, he said, to reflect and respect the journey we have come through as a country, and events like these make us think forward on ways to strengthen our cultural diversities even more by respecting everyone and treating everyone equally.

Branden Markosek (D), State Representative in Harrisburg at the podium

Earlier, Brandon Markosek, the Democratic State Representative in Harrisburg (from District 25 covering Monroeville) stressed that it is paramount that we all come together as one, we treat everyone fairly and equally and for all to feel part of the community. The Peace Pole, Markosek declared, “conveys the fact that we are one country, and we are one people.”

Setting the stage for the event, earlier, the president of Monroeville’s Rotary Club, Gerry Maynard, welcomed the invited guests and the gathering. He highlighted the significance of installing a Peace Pole as a symbol for welcoming and nurturing diverse cultures among people of different national origins, ethnicity, and religions. He exhorted everyone in the audience to extend diversity, equality, and inclusion in simple everyday tasks by making them a priority.

SOm Sharma, the previous president of the Monroeville Rotary Club at the podium

SOm Sharma, the previous president of the club, detailed the tremendous efforts that went into the Peace Pole project. Peace, he said, is at the very top of Rotary’s Seven Areas of Focus, and that Rotary’s motto, namely, “Service above Self” continues to motivate fellow Rotarians all over the globe. Hundreds of thousands of Rotarians in more than 35,000 clubs worldwide continue to spread peace around the world.

There are plans to add “Hiroshima Trees,” to send a strong message of human resilience. The Hiroshima trees survived the US dropping of the nuclear bomb in Hiroshima in Japan in August in 1945. The Peace Pole will only be a beginning inspiration for all to create programs nurturing peace and harmony in the community. 

A wider shot of the people gathered on that lovely day.

The Monroeville Rotary Club, a year ago, decided to have a Peace Pole in the community. A team of enthusiastic Rotarians did their research and engaged the services of a reputed sculptor, Joel Selmeier, of Cincinnati, Ohio. The Rotarians also identified the different languages spoken in and around Monroeville, an astounding number of forty languages to be cast on the pole. Stainless steel was the choice of the material – we are after all, the Steel City — based on our location, weather patterns and durability (expected life span of 400 years). The $15,000 project, funded mostly by the club’s own funds, took ten months to complete.

A Sikh member in the audience saying “May Peace Prevail on Earth” in Punjabi.

Through the program, Mr. Maynard randomly picked one of the 40 languages and invited people from the audience who could speak that language. He asked them to translate the phrase “May Peace Prevail on Earth,” and the phrase was translated into Hindi, Punjabi, Japanese, Hebrew, Urdu, Thai, French and Bahasa (Indonesia).

The event ended with a closing song “Let There be Peace on Earth”  by Diane Milowicki while the audience stood up and joined Diane in the singing, followed by the release of seven doves symbolizing the seven continents.

L to R: Gerry Maynard, President, Monroeville Rotary Club; Kannu Sahani, VP, Community Affairs, Highmark/AHN; Brandon Markosek (D), PA State Rep; Rich Fitzgerald, County Executive; Jamnadas Thakkar, Founder, DGBP Indian Senior Center; Kanak Iyer; Ravi Kolli, incoming President AAPI,;Raj Reddi Vangeti.

It was a great event, where people of different cultures, color and ethnic backgrounds were present unitedly to show their support to the “Peace Pole Inauguration Ceremony”.

Suzan DeLaney, member of the Murrysville Rotary Club emceed the program, with Diane Milowicki giving the national anthem in the ceremony. — END


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