Sandy Huber’s commitment to peace didn’t end with the planting and dedication of the International World Peace Rose Garden earlier this year.
The blooms that welcome visitors to the section of University Park were merely a first step.
On Wednesday the garden will serve as a backdrop for a Stockton celebration of the International Day of Peace, an annual recognition established by a United Nations resolution in 1981.
"It was moved to a fixed date in 2001," Huber explained. "Before, it was the second Tuesday of the month of September, but they wanted to move it to a fixed day so people could count on every year becoming committed to participate individually and collectively as a community, a state, a nation, or a country to having a day of peace."
In Stockton, the ceremony begins at 11:30 a.m. and features Stockton astronaut Jose Hernandez as the keynote speaker and Stockton Poet Laureate Tama Brisbane. Both are inspired choices. Hernandez viewed the world while on a Space Shuttle mission and since returning, has devoted himself to inspiring children to learn about science, math and technology. Brisbane, in addition to her own eloquence with words, teaches young people how to use them as powerful forms of expression.
In war zones, the International Day of Peace has meant a day of ceasefire, which allowed for humanitarian aid to be delivered, for children to attend school without fear, for people to leave their homes safely.
Imagine what a day of peace could look like in Stockton: children going to school without being bullied; young adults driving down the street or standing on street corners without being shot; people leaving home for the day without fear of violence or crime being visited upon them.
Yes, it’s only one day, but it has to start somewhere. If we can embrace and advocate for peace for one day, why not for two or three?
In addition to the invited guests, the Stockton ceremony will include the lighting of blue lights on the garden’s archway to celebrate the Blue Light Campaign, which honors law enforcement, and children who participated in creating poems of peace that are a part of the garden, will gather to ring the bell to begin and end the moment of silence at noon.
"We need to start with children," Huber said. "That’s why the World Peace Rose Garden uses children’s voices. Once they give thought and voice to peace, they can walk into that future."
The World Peace Rose Garden isn’t just for children, of course. A Peace Box was installed on Wednesday that allows visitors to share their messages of peace or share their experience of visiting the garden.
"Everyone has a story," Huber said. "We’d like to be able to share those on our website and our Facebook page. We want to provide an opportunity for people to be heard."
Surely there are others who share Huber’s dream of a more peaceful city. She’s not a Pollyanna for wanting to make her hometown a better place. She’s just willing to do something to achieve it, and celebrating the International Day of Peace is a perfect way.
"We wanted to elevate peace to a common conversation, and raise the level of awareness so we can begin to change behavior," Huber said.
It requires everyone to buy in, to make a commitment. Even if you can’t attend the celebration at the World Peace Rose Garden, you can embrace the day. Make peace with someone, or even with yourself. Let’s see if one day of consciously considering a world of peace can’t catch on.
— Contact reporter Lori Gilbert at (209) 546-8284 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @lorigrecord.