I travel frequently and have seen the monuments to soldiers and to wars that occupy our city squares and parks. In the summer of 2005 I took my son James to Washington, DC after he finished his first year of college. We made the standard tour of the city, visiting museums, the White House, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Korean War Veterans Memorial, and the newly dedicated National World War II Memorial.
In this and other visits to the Washington Mall, I have encountered dozens of war veterans discussing their combat experiences with their children, grandchildren, other relatives and friends. I suspect that most of the listeners were proud of the speaker’s military service and some viewed the war veteran as a potential role model. These memorials exist to reinforce the notion that war efforts or activities are highly valued and rewarded by our society.
Suddenly, with my son present, I realized that all of my memories and stories were of antiwar activities and there were no National Monuments here to indicate that our society values peace and those who take action to oppose one or more U.S. wars. There is no public validation of antiwar activities and no memorial to serve as a catalyst for discussion regarding courageous peace efforts by Americans over the past centuries. This realization led to the organization of the US Peace Memorial Foundation, Inc.
It is time to dedicate a National Monument to peace. Our society should be as proud of those who fight for alternatives to war as it is of those who fight wars. Demonstrating this national pride in some tangible way may encourage others to explore peace advocacy during times when only the voices of war are being heard.
Through the display of antiwar quotations by American leaders and the documentation of U.S. antiwar role models and activities, the US Peace Memorial will make it clear to our citizens that advocating for peaceful solutions to international problems and opposing war are honorable and socially acceptable activity in our democracy. War is part of our culture; change requires that peace be taught. We will provide education about our nation’s long history of brave citizens and leaders who have actively opposed U.S. wars.
A national monument to peacemakers can change our cultural mindset so that it will no longer be acceptable to label those who speak out against a U.S. war as un-American, antimilitary, traitorous, or unpatriotic. The memorial will help decrease the social barriers that Americans must overcome before they publicly oppose a war. If just a small percent of our citizens were to speak out against a U.S. war, it would end quickly.
Please take a few minutes to read these three short articles about our project. “World Peace: A First Step” was published in the Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare, June 2011 and is available at www.uspeacememorial.org/WorldPeace.pdf. “A Cultural Shift toward Peace: The Need for a National Symbol” was published in the journal Peace and Conflict. Read this essay at www.uspeacememorial.org/article.htm. In 2009, “Honoring Peace and Antiwar Behavior: The US Peace Registry” was published in Peace Psychology. Read it at www.uspeacememorial.org/Article2.htm.
I hope that you will share my enthusiasm and become a Founding Member of the US Peace Memorial Foundation. CLICK TO JOIN US NOW!
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