- Ada, Oklahoma

November 14, 2013

A monument to peace

Eric Swanson Staff Writer

Ada — A monument to peace sits on the east side of the Pontotoc County Courthouse, directly behind the VFW war memorial.

The war memorial honors soldiers who gave their lives for their country, but the pole behind it reminds visitors of the world’s longing for peace.

The granite pole bears the sentence “May peace prevail on earth” in eight languages: English, Spanish, French, Russian, Arabic, Hebrew, Nepalese and a Native American language. Beneath the pole, a small plaque tells viewers that the project is the work of the Ada Sunrise Rotary Club.

The pole reflects Rotary International’s theme for 2013, which is “Peace through service. Rotary clubs around the world were encouraged to find projects dealing with peace and conflict resolution.

Sunrise Rotary members decided to take on projects that addressed peace and ways to handle conflict, executive secretary Suzanne McFarlane said Thursday. Club member Nancy Thomason applied to Rotary International for a grant, which approved funding for two projects.

The first project paired Sunrise Rotary with the local Girl Scouts chapter to train more than 100 elementary school-aged students in the Scouts’ Power Up program, which encourages girls to stand up against bullying.

“We became trained and conducted a Power Up program for the girls at Boys and Girls Club for three weeks, and then we went out to Homer School and did the same thing,” McFarlane said. “So that was the conflict resolution strategy.”

McFarlane said she came up with the idea for the second project when she visited her daughter’s church in Shawnee, where she saw a peace pole in the church yard. She asked about the pole and discovered that the international Peace Pole Project places peace monuments throughout the world.

A division of the World Peace Sanctuary in Wassaic, N.Y., the Peace Pole Project sells poles made of wood or white vinyl. The poles bear the phrase “May peace prevail on earth” in four or eight languages.

Sunrise Rotary members decided they wanted to plant a peace pole at the courthouse near the war memorial, which would remind visitors of the search for peace, McFarlane said. The club asked the Pontotoc County Commission about the project, and the commission granted permission to install the pole at the courthouse.

Sunrise Rotary decided the pole should be made of granite. Ada Custom Memorials made the pole, inscribed the phrase “May peace prevail on earth” in eight languages on it and installed it at the courthouse.

The pole was installed in August, and Sunrise Rotary hosted a dedication ceremony at the courthouse on Oct. 25 — the day after United Nations Day, which celebrates the anniversary of the United Nations.

McFarlane said Dr. Christine Pappas, a professor of political science who serves on Ada’s Multiculturalism Committee, spoke during the dedication ceremony. Pappas spoke about the committee’s goals and noted that the pole’s location emphasized the connection between peace and justice.

“She tied in the fact that its placement in front of the courthouse sort of emphasizes the fact that without justice, there is no peace,” McFarlane said. “And I love that phrase.”

McFarlane said she hopes the pole will remind visitors that peace begins in their hearts and homes.

“We say ‘May peace prevail on earth,’ but it’s got to begin with us,” she said.