A Declaration of Friendship and Hope

20th Anniversary: Commemorating SGI President Ikeda’s 1996 Visit to Denver

by Lauren Matsuda

DENVER, June 12—It’s been 20 years since SGI President and Mrs. Ikeda visited Denver in June 1996. On that historic trip, President Ikeda received an Honorary Doctorate of Education—his first from an American institute—from the University of Denver, on June 8. The next day, he joined members from throughout the Rocky Mountain States to attend the Rocky Mountain Joint Territory Cherry Blossom General Meeting, where he shared unforgettable guidance. “Human beings are raised by human beings,” President Ikeda said. “Only people can help other people become happy” (My Dear Friends in America, third edition, p. 436).

Photo: Rayna Manger Tedford.
Photo: Rayna Manger Tedford.

Striving to respond to this encouragement, even 20 years later, members throughout Rocky Mountain Zone welcomed 42 new member households in the week of June 5–12, and also marked the anniversary with general meetings in Salt Lake City and Denver themed “20 Years With Sensei! A Declaration of Friendship and Hope.”

PROC_Univ of Denver_Dr. DI Day 6_8_2016Denver’s meeting was held at South High School on the edge of Washington Park, with over 550 members and guests who gathered to chant, hear members’ experiences, and enjoy performances by the Ikeda Youth Ensemble, the Arts Department Band and the Snow-Capped Rocky Mountain Chorus (named by President Ikeda in 1996).


PROC_City & County of Denver_DI Peace Day_2016The event also included an awards presentation:

  • On behalf of Mayor Michael B. Hancock, Al Martinez delivered a proclamation declaring June 12, 2016, “Dr. Daisaku Ikeda Peace Day” in the City and County of Denver.
  • On behalf of Chancellor Rebecca Chopp, Katharine Nanda presented a proclamation declaring June 8, 2016, “Dr. Daisaku Ikeda Day” at the University of Denver.


SGI-USA Men’s Leader Cliff Sawyer traveled throughout Rocky Mountain Zone to support the commemorative activities. At Denver’s June 12 meeting, he encouraged local SGI-USA members to “develop the same sense of responsibility” as President Ikeda to work for peace in society.


With news of Orlando’s mass shooting—the deadliest in U.S. history— starting to appear in the headlines that same day, the SGI’s mission of creating friendship and hope in the community became all the more significant for the Rocky Mountain Zone members.

To be sure, they have used the 20th anniversary of President Ikeda’s visit to Denver to unite and determine, once again, to spread the humanistic message of Buddhism—one that upholds the supreme dignity of human life.


(p. 8)