Monday, May 28, 2012

When Worlds Collide for Peace

Source: Pencils for Peace
Sometimes you wonder why things happen the way they do. In the long run, it doesn't really matter, but when circumstances occur to bridge communities for a purpose, it's wonderful. This is how the Pencils for Peace Project became part of the Paintings for Peace exhibition organized by Operation Democracy in Locust Valley, New York. The exhibition will travel to the town Saint Mere Eglise in the Normandy region of France as part of the D-Day commemoration this June.


Source: Operation Democracy
Last year, our Student Council was inspired by a simple and beautiful memorial in Boston of anonymous dog tags representing all soldiers who had lost their lives in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars and decided to start the Pencils for Peace Project. The students created their own memorial by hanging a curtain of pencils to represent each of the soldiers who died fighting in Afghanistan. 

The student-designed logo for the Pencils for Peace Project captures the essence of the peace symbol with a ring of adjoining children holding hands, and as one first grader told us, "it looks like there are hearts between each one." The long-term goal is to promote peace-building ideas and activities to resolve conflicts to make the world a more peaceful place.

Source: Operation Democracy
During our recent Celebration of the Arts, the choir dedicated their songs to peace, and a student made a moving slide show to go along with the performance. This powerful presentation caught the attention of a parent who put us in touch with Kaye Weninger, one of the directors for Operation Democracy and the curator for the Painting for Peace exhibition.

The original Operation Democracy began in 1947 as a grassroots effort to supplement the Marshall Plan after World War II. In 2010, the organization released a movie called the "Mother of Normandy" which is the story of:
"a remarkable woman, whose devotion to a generation of heroes transcended all boundaries. Mde. Simone Renaud witnessed the liberation of France on 6.6.44, from home in Saint Mere Eglise."
The rekindled Operation Democracy hopes to carry out the idea behind the original mission of humanitarianism and to reinstitute the historic concept:

"...the belief that peace cannot be achieved by governments alone but must start in the hearts of people themselves. It was felt that no government process could be a substitute for human understanding and that some way had to be found for the average American to do something about peace."
The goal to help our students become a generation of peace builders goes far beyond each of our local communities. In a world of war, violence and bullying, it is within our power as educators to promote peace and understanding. Whether through Pencils for Peace or Operation Democracy, let's build more bridges between our schools and communities to make the world a more peaceful place. It is a fitting reminder on this Memorial Day.

Source: Pencils for Peace

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