Let’s rededicate the Peace Tower … to peace
On a rainy evening this past spring a couple of dozen people gathered at Ottawa’s Bronson Centre to discuss the idea of setting up a local PeaceQuest chapter. Many of the people in the converted classroom have been questing for peace for decades.
Their lifelong commitments ranged from the promotion of a Department of Peace to a nuclear weapons ban, from Project Ploughshares to the global struggle for social justice. Their commitment reflected the PeaceQuest description of peace.
“Peace is an active way of living, resolving conflicts cooperatively, respecting the wellbeing of the earth and all peoples.”
One of the very first ideas suggested at this meeting was to re-dedicate the Peace Tower to underline the importance of peace – peacemaking, reconciliation, peacekeeping, a culture of peace – as a basic Canadian value.
The Tower got its name in the aftermath of World War I, with its carillon inaugurated on July 1, 1927 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Confederation. Since then, the tall flagpole above the gothic gargoyles and copper roof has become one of the most widely-recognized symbols of our country.
Until the 1970s the Peace Tower stood as the highest accessible spot in the nation’s capital. It still retains a hugely symbolic and physical presence – a true Canadian icon named, appropriately, for this fundamental Canadian value.
The Memorial Chamber at the Tower’s base was originally dedicated to the memory of the 60,000 Canadians killed in the tragic 1914-1918 war that had so traumatized the country. So it’s no surprise that the Chamber’s windows include The Dawn of Peace, symbolized by peace, prosperity, progress and plenty. At the base of one window visitors read the words from Psalm 46:9 “He maketh wars to cease.”
(The entire verse reads that the Lord makes “… wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire”)
Until this year, the Peace Tower was the central image on Canada’s $20 bill. Though recently replaced by a war memorial, the Tower remains on the polymer-based banknote’s new window.
The government’s most recent throne speech has indicated that the government intends to re-dedicate the national war memorial while underlining martial values.
Isn’t it appropriate for those of us who hold peace as a central Canadian value to take up the cause of re-dedicating the Peace Tower?
Caroline Balderston Parry
October 25, 2013 @ 3:36 am
I entirely agree! How do we move forward with this? Caroline
October 28, 2013 @ 1:37 pm
I agree fully with this question of dedicating the Peace Tower to Peace. I believe that Peace is a very important Canadian value, and yet can so easily become associated with war. It is critical that those of us dedicated to peace educate all Canadians, especially the young,, about the real picture of Peace and what contributes to it. We need the images of those who contribute in a variety of ways rather than having only the image of those who have fought in war. This is not to diminish the courage and love of those who have served in wars which were seen as the way to bring peace, but to offer the direction we hope to take, based on the Scripture quoted on the Peace Tower. The value of militarism must be transformed into the creative ways of Peace and Life for all.
November 25, 2013 @ 4:30 am
In our quest for peace we need to help those souls still trapped in the horror of traumatic death in war to realize it is over, so they can finally go to the Light of the spiritual dimension. This can best be done by the descendants of all sides in past conflicts joining together in a common service that affirms the war is over, that we are all now living together in peace, and offer our prayers that all the spirits of those who died recognize this, and go together to the Light. I would like to see this done for all the battlefields and war ravaged areas, including the wars against First Nations in North America.