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Peace Day

By Elizabeth HammondElizabeth Hammond is a researcher working for the National Peace Day campaign. / May 7, 1984



IN this nuclear age, where the weapons designed to protect us actually threaten to annihilate us, the future of mankind lies in the collective intelligence that is exerted to help one another lead positive lives. The will to live is stronger than the temptation to destroy. Peace is a fundamental value of the US. So, let's celebrate life and declare a permanent ''national day of peace.''

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For many years, various states have considered some form of a nonsectarian peace day. Finally, in 1980, Marie Strain, of Concord, Mass., urged a number of New England lawmakers to introduce legislation to create a national day of peace to be celebrated on the first Sunday of every August; 132 representatives and 14 senators have cosponsored the bills: HJR 74 in the House, and SJR 206 in the Senate. Governors of Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Ohio, Rhode Island, Virginia, and Wisconsin have announced proclamations to establish a national day of peace in their states.

By honoring ''peace'' as an important objective of law, we can demonstrate to the world that the collective will of our nation is to choose life.

In 1983, Marie Strain and the National Peace Day Committee decided ''to put love into our symbols of war, and to turn them into symbols of peace.'' Thus Emerson's ''shot heard round the world,'' fired from Concord Bridge, became ''Peace - the song heard around the world.''

Concord's celebration begins at the Concord Bridge with an Indian ritual: ''The Healing of the Earth.'' Sage and sweetbrush are burned and the smoke is fanned into the air with feathers. Songs of peace are sung. Wreaths of baby's breath with small multicolored ribbons and diminutive cranes, and whole ''trees'' of larger cranes, are carried in procession from the bridge to the green of the Concord Library, where the ceremony continues.

Peace Day celebrations have sprung up in many cities and towns across the nation, each with their own particular expressions. Would it not be appropriate for every town or city in America to celebrate a day of peace? We have a number of state and federal holidays honoring wars. Why not a nonsectarian day of peace as well?