Dozens of children, students, activists and peace advocates joined together Sept. 21 at 4 p.m. on Johnson Field to create a human peace sign. In honor of the International Peace Day and Albuquerque Peace Week, this was the first human peace sign done in Albuquerque.
Sponsored in part by the United Nations Association Albuquerque chapter, the Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice, GenUN at The University of New Mexico, the UNM Peace Studies Program and Campaign Nonviolence, the event was created in solidarity with several other events around the world encouraging peace.
According to Susan Schuurman of the Center for Peace and Justice, The United Nations’ International Day of Peace is honored every year on Sept. 21. Established in 1981, this day was created for strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and people, according to the UN.
Inspired by the creation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, this is the 70th year of the document’s existence. In honor of the Declaration, this year's theme for the International Day of Peace was titled “The Right to Peace —The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 70,” as decided by the UN.
“If there’s a message to this, it’s to remember the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to do whatever you can to help achieve those ambitious objectives established in the [Declaration],” Greg Polk, human peace sign coordinator, said.
Before the event, the peace sign was outlined by yellow plastic flags placed in the ground. As the crowd grew, waiting for the outline to be finished, people stood amongst themselves, talking about what peace meant.
“You need to have peace in the world,” said nursing student Sarah Doney. “There’s so much violence nowadays, to gather and just be able to just be happy with life and everything that's going on on in it is something that should be celebrated.”
When the outline of the peace sign was finished, the crowd was invited to stand on the marked spots. Having one person stand on each yellow flag, the universal symbol for peace was created including both the young and old participants.
Led by musician Eileen Shaughnessy, of Eileen and the In-Betweens, songs “Give Peace a Chance” by Bill Frisell and “Imagine” by John Lennon were recited for all of Johnson Field to hear. Members of the human peace sign sang in unison, joining together and flashing hand signs for peace.
“It’s one day where everyone can get together and there's no hostility and no drama and everyone can just be friends,” said UNM junior and physical education major Taylor Whitt.
After songs were recited and a photo was snapped, members of the human peace sign were invited to join the Center for Peace and Justice for a Peace Party. There, live music, a mural project, root beer floats, and a brief presentation took place.
Peace week was honored from Sept. 15 to Sept. 21 through projects such as the human peace sign, short films, nonviolence trainings and anti-racism workshops at the Center for Peace and Justice and the University of New Mexico.
Luisa Pennington is a freelance reporter with the Daily Lobo. She can contacted firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @_lpennington_.