Rotary Clubs unveil Peace Monument

POSTED: 06/3/14 12:11 AM

St. Maarten – The Rotary Clubs on St. Maarten/St. Martin joined 1.2 million people worldwide in calling for peace as they unveiled a peace monument last Saturday. The monument has been strategically placed at the entrance of the Philipsburg Jubilee Library as a reminder that what is often seen as an elusive dream or utopic ideal; peace, is still an attainable and realistic goal.

The Rotary Club Sunrise president Angela Gordon led the charge in realizing the establishment of the structure. She said that, “It is dedicated to the transformation of education around peace and justice in our community. With this monument it will be an effort to Rotarians to visualize the cause of Rotary International founder Paul Harris which is to convey the work of organizing peace and promoting peace in our community that will be extended to world peace. Why convey the work peace in our community? Statistics have shown the different crimes that are taking place on this small community; there are gang fights, stabbing in schools, persons being murdered, babies being taken from their homes,” Gordon related.

At the apex of the Jon Hart design is a soaring blue dove bearing an olive branch, with the Rotary International symbol just below. The text on the monument reads, “This Rotary Peace Monument was created by the Rotary Clubs on St. Maarten/St. Martin as a commitment to world peace, empower our citizens to overcome violence and injustice, and bring peace, dignity and prosperity to our community.”

The event started with a peace procession from the roundabout to the Library by the Generation New Status STM Drum Band.

“The ambition and importance of today’s event on St. Maarten has repercussions much further. We can seek economic prosperity, a healthy community and a prosperous people, but I believe that without peace, starting amongst those who are searching for any other commodity or development, we will be short of our goals,” Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams said.

She indicated that it is important to not only act peaceful but speak and pronounce peace wherever one goes.

“A new rudeness, incivility, antisocial behavior are words that are being used too frequently now,” she stated.

Education, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Patricia Lourens-Philip said that while the Rotarians are to be congratulated for erecting the monument in Philipsburg, she believes that it would be more effective for the peace movement to be directed to the school districts.

“Our children need to be daily reminded of tolerance and peace. I am asking the Rotary Clubs on St. Maarten, if it is at all possible, to put some mini-replicas of this monument in the vicinity of our schools. When students are able to see this on a daily basis, it will remind them of what they need to be doing, postering and discussing among themselves.”

Meanwhile Vromi-Minister Maurice Lake called for discussions on peace to be taken to community centers and even under the trees. He said that he was pleased to be associated with the realization of the monument.

“You never see a statue built in honor of a critic so it is always good to give back to the community.”

Rebecca Low, the Assistant Governor  of  District 7020 which includes 10 countries and 16 islands, congratulated the 4 Rotary Clubs here that came together to promote peace.
“Across the world today, 42 million people are displaced by armed conflict, 90 percent of casualties are civilians and at least half are children.  Over 300 thousand child soldiers are believed to be involved in conflicts around the world. While Rotarians assist children that are injured, traumatized or hurt, it doesn’t have to be a full scale war for Rotary to become involved. We build peace in our world by building peace in our communities through friendships, an open mind and a wealthy spirit. This monument will serve to be a visual and constant reminder to us all,” she said.
Past assistant governor Stephen Thompson posited that peace is a limited and transient human condition.

“Charity begins at home, so does peace. Peace is the absence of things that disturb us. To the battered woman peace is the absence of domestic violence, peace is a free press, the prevention of child abuse and bullying and the abhorrence of cruelty to animals. Peace means safe beaches. In our world safety and peace are twins. Peace is crime prevention, the absence of corruption, the paradox of transparent government and blind justice. Peace is humane immigration policy, cooperation with our neighbouring countries, pertinent laws, good enforcement, appropriate punishment,” he said.
The monument is directed largely towards young people and community spirit. MC for event Claret Connor outlined the objectives.

“A healthy and peaceful environment among the people of St. Maarten/St. Martin, in general, and the youth in particular, without any distinction of race, gender, local background, social background or religious beliefs. It is to promote the quality of life of the community by providing healthy, productive and meaningful opportunities for interactions based on moral ethics and principles. It promotes the social welfare of youth with special emphasis through history, educational lectures and social activities. Finally, to promote community development and partnership and mobilize youth towards the building of our community.”

There was  much pomp and ceremony surrounding the unveiling of the monument and joining the celebrations on Saturday were members of the National Institute of Arts, the Voice of Our Children Foundation, Belvedere Community Center, Ujima Foundation, the Hillside Christian Schools choir and Sue-An Agol.

Director of  the Philipsburg Jubilee Library Monique Alberts, who is also a Rotarian, said that  the library is planning a series of peace activities around the unveiling of the library.

“Libraries stand for peace, tolerance and a meeting place for all members of the community regardless of age, race, ethnicity or political orientation. So the values reflected in the Peace Monument are also those of the library,” she noted.

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