Forest Grove dedicates newest 'Peace Pole' at auditorium
There are a couple of new markers standing outside the doors of the Forest Grove Community Auditorium, the city's main gathering place for public meetings and conferences.
On Tuesday afternoon, July 3, members of the Forest Grove Daybreak Rotary Club joined members of the Forest Grove Sister Cities Committee and a visiting delegation from Forest Grove's sister city of Nyuzen, Japan, to dedicate a "Peace Pole" at the auditorium.
A plaque on a rock next to the pole states that it is placed "in commemoration of 30 years as sister cities," as Forest Grove and Nyuzen have been paired as sister cities since 1988 (the relationship was officially formalized by accord in 1989).
The Peace Pole Project actually began in Japan, in 1955. The idea behind the project is to plant, in prominent public locations, poles that bear the phrase "may peace prevail on Earth" in multiple languages. It has since spread worldwide, with Rotary International — a service organization with chapters around the world, including two in Forest Grove — taking up the cause.
Forest Grove Daybreak Rotary has planted four Peace Poles, each with a different mix of languages, according to club President Susan Winterbourne. The one dedicated outside the auditorium on Tuesday is its third in Forest Grove proper. A fourth, unaffiliated Peace Pole was planted by students at Pacific University in 2016.
The Peace Pole at the Forest Grove Community Auditorium features the words "may peace prevail on Earth" as written in English, Spanish, Japanese and American Sign Language.
"Today, the Rotary Club of Forest Grove Daybreak with the City of Forest Grove plant this Peace Pole in dedication to our sister city friendship with Nyuzen, Japan," Winterbourne declared, with Sister Cities Committee President Sandy Garcia providing Japanese translation for the benefit of the Nyuzen delegation.
Winterbourne continued, "The planting of this Peace Pole will show that our communities in Japan and here in Forest Grove care about peace in our world and want this Peace Pole to serve as a reminder that cooperation, friendship and diplomacy are a path to world understanding and peace."
Haruhito Sasajima, who serves as mayor of the Town of Nyuzen, expressed pride that the Peace Pole Project originated in his home country.
"Nyuzen has formally declared our commitment to respecting individual life, protecting our beautiful land and creating a peaceful world without nuclear weapons," said Sasajima, as translated by Sister Cities Committee member Azumi Stapp.
After the Peace Pole was unveiled, Sasajima posed for photos alongside his Forest Grove counterpart, Pete Truax, as well as Larry Hatch, a member of the Forest Grove Daybreak Rotary Club and Rotary District 5100 governor.
"As John Lennon wrote, 'All we are saying is give peace a chance,'" Truax said, "for if we give peace a chance, we will reach that day when we will act out and embrace that feeling and mission of international brotherhood — brotherhood that is embodied by our sister city, Nyuzen, Japan."
Sasajima and other delegates from Nyuzen are currently visiting Forest Grove as part of a two-year celebration of the sister city relationship's 30th anniversary. Forest Grove will send its own delegation to the Japanese town next year.
Delegates arrived in Forest Grove on Monday, July 2, and had lunch, sake tastings and a brewery tour at Forest Grove company Saké One earlier Tuesday. Later in the evening, they will attend a banquet and gala at Pacific in their honor.
Forest Grove Daybreak Rotary is currently planning, in conjunction with local members of the American Legion, to unveil yet another Peace Pole outside the Forest Grove Senior & Community Center at some point in the near future, Winterbourne said.
The club already dedicated another Peace Pole earlier this year outside the Forest Grove Community School, just a couple blocks from the auditorium.
Editor's note: Forest Grove News-Times editor Mark Miller is an active member of the Forest Grove Daybreak Rotary Club.
By Mark Miller
Editor, Forest Grove News-Times
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