This past Friday, David and I had the honor of joining in on celebrations for the U.N. International Day of Peace (IDOP). In attendance were, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, many of the U.N. Messengers of Peace including, Michael Douglas, Eli Wiesel, Dr. Jane and newly appointed Messenger of Peace Her Royal Highness Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein of Jordan.
The day of celebrations started with a peace bell ceremony outside the U.N. In this ceremony Mr. Ban spoke about peace as being the highest calling for the UN, the aspiration that “defines our mission” and “drives our discourse”. With this and the celebrations of the day, Mr. Ban called for a 24 hour world-wide cease fire. The ceremony concluded with Mr. Ban ringing the famous Japanese Peace bell cast from coins collected from 60 different countries.
Following the ceremony we attended the U.N. Student Observance gathering for IDOP. In this gathering Mr. Ban and the Messengers of Peace spoke about peace with 700 students at the U.N. and live via webcast in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Lebanon, and Sudan. Each Messenger spoke of how they saw peace happening in the world and what they were going to do as Messengers of Peace to see their visions become realities.
After these speeches we had the opportunity to view three short films about youth living in the DRC, Lebanon, and Sudan. These films were followed by personal stories from the country of origin, and discussion. To hear and see what it is like for youth in war torn countries is something that brought me to tears. It was so inspiring however to learn that there were youth stepping up, and taking some action to make their world a better place.
After the video section of the student observance we heard from a panel of youth leaders from across the US and internationally on how they were participating in efforts for Peace. Our very own Mitch Paine was amongst the panel of speakers. In his speech Mitch eloquently told his own story of working to save the endangered Salt Creek Beetle, and how his experiences with Roots & Shoots taught him that when youth come together they can make a difference, they can make change.
Following the celebrations at the U.N. David and I ended our day with Roots & Shoots College Leaders Zach Storey and Nina Martin by flying a Peace Dove at the highest point in Central Park, Belvedere Castle.
This day was truly inspiring and hearing so many youth speak about their ideas and solutions for peace gives me immense hope for the future.