Celebrating a Day of Peace and Aloha
In the Community
by Monica Yasuda
SPECIAL TO THE TRIBUNE
PEARL CITY, Hawaii, Sept. 24—Under clear blue skies, SGI-USA members of Hawaii Region participated in “Peace Day Hawaii: Uniting With Aloha” at the University of Hawaii’s Oahu Urban Garden Center.
The local members, together with community peace groups, worked behind the scenes to prepare for the event, which attracted some 1,000 people who came together to commemorate Sept. 21, the U.N.’s International Day of Peace.
In 2007, Hawaii became the first state in the U.S. to officially recognize the International Day of Peace, now observed by hundreds of millions of citizens, NGOs and governments worldwide as a call for peace, nonviolence and sustainable development through education and public awareness.
The celebration opened with an oli, a traditional Hawaiian chant, and graceful hula performances by SGI members. An energetic dance to “Surf ” by elementary school division members paid tribute to one of Hawaii’s renowned musicians, recently deceased Ernie Cruz Jr.
People from all walks of life, ranging from kupuna (seniors) to keiki (children) soaked in activities spread across over 50 community booths with interactive games and crafts. Participants engaged in topics such as health and wellness, sustainability, bullying and dealing with the trauma of violence. They also viewed the SGI-USA’s Victory Over Violence exhibition and joined local dignitaries in dedicating the Peace Path, a 100-yard stretch of future peace-themed gardens that will connect with the Soka Peace Garden Theater, which opened in January 2015.
Among the speakers was Paul K. Chappell, West Point graduate and peace leadership director for the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. He gave a talk on “Waging Peace,” stressing the importance of mutual respect and listening with empathy, and the call to fulfill individual potentials—aspects to consider on individual and global levels.
The crowd then joined a “Universal Dance of Peace,” forming concentric circles in dance to celebrate everyone’s efforts and contributions to the day and every day toward building a community, society and world filled with the spirit of peace and aloha.