City of Columbia Dedicates the Vista Peace Pole: Eight languages proclaim the message “May Peace Prevail on Earth”
Over one hundred people attended the dedication of the Vista Peace Pole on Tuesday, January 11, 2022, in the median of the 900 block of Senate Street, between the South Carolina Statehouse and the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center in the downtown Vista area.
The Vista Peace Pole is the latest of Columbia’s public art projects, thanks to the collaboration of One Columbia for Arts and Culture and The Columbia Peace Pole Initiative, which commissioned local artist Eileen Blyth to create a unique, creative version of a peace pole.
Elected officials, including Columbia Mayor Daniel Rickenmann and city council member Howard Duvall attended the dedication. Native speakers of the eight languages read the message in their language and rang the bell as a sign that “peace is a verb as well as a noun.” Representatives of some of the many local peacemaking organizations also attended the dedication to share in this celebration of a permanent monument to active peacemaking in Columbia and South Carolina.
“May peace prevail on earth” is a universal message that has now been translated into over 50 languages and placed on more than 200,000 multi-language peace poles in virtually every country around the world.
The eight-foot, CorTen steel structure proclaims “May peace prevail on earth” in eight languages of raised, stainless-steel lettering. The languages (Arabic, Catawba, English, Gullah, Hebrew, Hindi, Japanese, and Spanish) represent some of the peoples of South Carolina.
Artist Eileen Blyth included a bell in her design, saying, “The bell invites the viewer to come closer for examination, giving them a moment to reflect on the thought and a moment of peace. The gong encourages calm.” The bell falls from a slight overhang at the top of the pole.
Many attendees at the dedication came forward to ring the bell.
Thanks goes to the committee members (including representatives from Columbia Friends Meeting) – Lori Donath, Cassandra Fralix, Harry Rogers, Doug Woodbrown, Elaine Frick, Priscilla Preston, Anna May, Tayyaba Sadiq, David Matos, Debbie Billings, Pamela Greenlaw, Susan Dugan, Kate Webb, and Bethany Storlazzi. Young Friends Jubilee McBrayer-Donath and AJ Avila participated at the dedication, reading from the book “Peace” by Wendy Anderson Halperin.
The project was funded by individual and group donations. The Columbia Peace Pole Initiative thanks these generous donors (listed separately).
Some Reflections on the Messages of the Vista Peace Pole – from the Columbia Peace Pole Initiative Committee
The eight languages – Japanese, English, Arabic, Hebrew, Hindi, Spanish, Gullah, and Catawba – represent the diversity of our local population and honor the diversity of our traditions. They are the languages of nation-states; they are the languages of religious affiliations; they are the languages of people around the world and in our community who aspire to a better life.
The Columbia Peace Pole Initiative committee chose two languages to make this peace pole especially particular to Columbia and South Carolina. The committee chose Catawba, noting that a multitude of tribal populations inhabited this area in the pre-Columbian period and that the very land in which this peace pole is planted was seized from its native people, the Cofitachique and their descendant Pine Hill Tribe, through violence by European colonists.
The committee chose Gullah, a distinct dialect of South Carolina and of the descendants of peoples who were displaced from their homes in Africa through violent means and withstood the challenges for centuries afterward. This peace pole is planted on the same block as the site of a holding pen and structure which housed enslaved African Americans prior to their sale. This peace pole speaks a concept of “peace” that must acknowledge the injustices of the past and present.
And because peace poles were inspired by a desire to never again experience the horrors and destruction at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, this Vista Peace Pole must help us recognize the role our state has played and still plays in the production of nuclear weapons.
Finally, this Vista Peace Pole reminds us that peace is not a far-off goal, but a present and enduring means for living and interacting in our world.
WHAT IS A PEACE POLE?
A peace pole is a plea, a prayer, a blessing. This offering to humanity has been lifted up by people around the world, in many languages, for more than half a century. Ten years following the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Masahisa Goi, in Ishikawa, Japan, shared a message that can be translated as “May peace prevail on Earth.” Within only a few years the “peace pole” tradition arrived in cities across the world, sharing the desire that nuclear weapons never be used again. (For more information: www.worldpeace.org.)
HOW COLUMBIA’S “VISTA PEACE POLE” CAME TO BE
A peace pole was planted at the Columbia Friends Meeting (Quakers) meetinghouse in 2016 during the annual Hiroshima Vigil, held in Columbia since 1990 on the anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. The interfaith, multi-cultural Vigil remembers those lost in nuclear holocausts at Hiroshima and Nagasaki and speaks out that nuclear weapons must never be used again. From that planting of a peace pole in 2016 came The Columbia Peace Pole Initiative, dedicated to encouraging the planting of peace poles around the city and region. Now the Vista Peace Pole will make a unique, permanent artistic statement, “May peace prevail on Earth.”
THE COLUMBIA PEACE POLE INITIATIVE hopes many more peace poles will spring up around Columbia and the Midlands. The Initiative’s next project is the planting of a Greenway Peace Pole along the Vista Greenway, near Finlay Park, in cooperation with the City of Columbia’s Parks and Recreation Department. A second-generation Hiroshima persimmon tree has already been planted on the site. The Columbia Peace Pole Initiative received seeds of hibakujumoku, or survivor trees, that miraculously sprang back to life out of the ashes from the first atomic bombing in Hiroshima, Japan. These atomic-bomb-survivor trees are a testament to the resilience of nature and hope for all. Peace poles can be original creations or can be ordered from www.worldpeace.org or www.peacepoles.com.
The State Newspaper https://www.thestate.com/news/local/article257220573.html
Thanks to the many generous DONORS to the Vista Peace Pole.
Bostick, Carol Anne
Columbia Friends Meeting
Eiwen, Ginny and Bill
Ferillo, Charles & Julia
(with Young Friends)
Frick, Stan & Elaine
Kaufman, Lee Jane
Mosque Noor Ul Huda
Peace and Integration Council of
North America (PICNA)
Shandon Presbyterian Church
South Carolina Christian Action Council
Summers, Tom & Marilyn
Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbia
Zubizarreta, Margie and John
Donor names are also included in the Vista Peace Pole posting on One Columbia’s Public Art Directory at https://publicart.onecolumbiasc.com/piece/2874.