By Morgan Brizee
The peace pole that sits in front of the HSU Student Health Center has a strong history. Alistair McCrone, retired HSU president, placed the pole in memory of Al Elpusan who was a past HSU Associated Students president and died in 1990 from a car crash while in the Philippines.
“Al Elpusan spoke an unspoken language of peace,” McCrone said.
Elpusan helped in the process of moving the peace pole to its current location before he passed, but never got to see it put up. The peace pole was never properly dedicated or acknowledged after it was moved, but on Feb. 13 to kick off the International Education week it was re-dedicated.
The peace pole is a symbol of different meanings to many different people. According to the World Peace Prayer Society, peace poles symbolize the oneness of humanity and a common wish for a world at peace. The World Peace Prayer Society’s website shows peace poles around the world and the meaning behind them.
Joanne McGarry is a 61-year-old woman who works with U.S. Servas, a non profit organization that allows people to travel and do volunteer work and stay with a host for free. McGarry attended the peace pole re-dedication ceremony. McGarry said that it is important that HSU recognizes an element of history of peace. US Servas is a non-profit group that allows people to host travelers while travelers learn about different cultures and meet new people.
“The peace pole is an important symbolic, simple statement of peace, of being of peace here,” McGarry said.
During this time of confusion and anger for what is going on in politics, the reminder of peace is important. Emma Fox, an 18-year-old HSU freshman majoring in international studies, said that the world needs to be peaceful again especially with what has been going on recently.
“In this time with everything changing globally we need to remember that the world is a better place when it is a peaceful place and we need to get back to that,” Fox said.
The HSU peace pole has the phrase “May Peace Prevail on Earth” in Spanish, English, Russian and Hupa, one on each side of the pole. Around the globe there are thousands of peace poles to remind people of world peace. Each one in the world displays the same message of “May Peace Prevail on Earth” in different languages.
Lama Choyang is a Arcata local Tibetan Buddhist and opened and closed the Peace Pole re-dedication ceremony. She constantly repeated the words “May Peace Prevail on Earth” to keep it clear what the important message was. In her speech, she said that we need to rely on others in this time to create a peaceful world.
“The word peace has something to do with how we engage difference,” Choyang said. “We are called to have immense compassion.”
Peace is not only needed during this time in the political sphere but also with violence happening. Ron White, leadership program manager at Humboldt Area Foundation, talked about the recent and ongoing police violence and how peace is the solution.
“Truly peace cannot be full without justice,” White said. “Peace is deeply connected with shalom.”
Jonah Platt, the current Associated Student President, also talked about the recent violence and political issues going on.
“We live in a corrupt system,” Platt said. “I want to honor all who honor life.”
Peace means different things to different people but the common thought of it is about coming together as one in the world.
Mary Gelinas, the co-director of Cascadia Center for Leadership talked about the earth and it being connected to peace.
“Earth is the source of our peace,” Gelinas said.