PEOPLE WITH A
PASSION FOR PEACE
Since 1995, the all-volunteer and interfaith peaceCENTER continues to be a significant community catalyst for peace in San Antonio, Texas. Compassion and Justice are our strong guiding lights. Contemplative Practices, Experiential Education, and Nonviolent Actions are our working expressions throughout the community at large.
285 Oblate Drive
San Antonio, Texas 78216
The peaceCENTER is a 501(c)((3)) non-profit
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On December 10, 1948 the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations, which held its fifth General Assembly at the Palais de Chaillot, in Paris. In 1985, at the entrance of the forecourt, an engraved slab was dedicated and the esplanade was re-named as the “Court of Human Rights.” Dedicated by Prime Minister Mitterand, it says: “men are born and remain free and equal in rights,” quoting Article 1 of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen of 1789.
On October 17, 1987, at the initiative of Father Joseph Wresinski, a second slab was sealed at the other end of the square. It reads as follows: “On 17 October 1987, human rights defenders and citizens of all countries gathered in this square. They paid tribute to the victims of hunger, ignorance and violence. They affirmed their belief that misery is not fatal. They proclaimed their solidarity with those who are fighting around the world to destroy it. Where men are condemned to live in misery, human rights are violated. Uniting to enforce them is a sacred duty.” The dedication of this slab is where the World Day of the Rejection of Poverty was launched, celebrated each year on October 17, and officially recognized by the United Nations General Assembly as the International Day for the elimination of poverty.
December 14, 1897
Margaret Chase Smith
“Moral cowardice that keeps us from speaking our minds is as dangerous to this country as irresponsible talk. The right way is not always the popular and easy way. Standing for right when it is unpopular is a true test of moral character.”
December 15, 1913
“The universe is made of stories, not of atoms.”
December 16, 1901
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
Monday’s Monument: Monument Against Fascism, War, and Violence-and for Peace and Human Rights, Hamburg/Harberg, Germany
Commissioned by the city, artists Jochen Gerz and Esther Shalev-Gerz described their design as a Gegen-Denkmal––a countermonument. They rejected the city of Hamburg’s offer to place it in a park and instead constructed it in a pedestrian shopping mall in the working-class suburb of Harburg. It is a pillar, twelve meters high and one meter wide, made of hollow aluminum and plated with a layer of dark lead. An inscription near its base reads, in German, French, English, Russian, Hebrew, Arabic and Turkish, “We invite the citizens of Hamburg and visitors to the town, to add their names here to ours. In doing so, we commit ourselves to remain vigilant. As more and more names cover this 12 meter tall lead column, it will gradually be lowered into the ground. One day it will have disappeared completely, and the site of the Hamburg monument against fascism will be empty. In the end, it is only we ourselves who can rise up against injustice.” A steel stylus was attached at each corner by a cable so that people could sign their names onto the pillar. Every time one meter and a half of the pillar was covered with inscriptions, the monument was lowered. Unveiled in 1986, the memorial was lowered six times before sinking completely in 1993, with over 70,000 signatures inscribed onto its surface.
December 3, 1935
Eddie Bernice Johnson
“We can’t go all over the world killing people because we disagree with them.”
December 4, 1795
“The spiritual is the parent of the practical.”
December 5, 1830
“Can anything be sadder than work left unfinished? Yes, work never begun.”
It is perhaps a stretch to call the Teddy Roosevelt memorial a peace monument, as the only reference to peace on the four slabs that are engraved with his quotations falls not on the side of peace. “If I must chose between righteousness and peace, I chose righteous,” he wrote in a 1915 essay on America and the World War. The 91-acre Roosevelt Island — in the middle of the Potomac River, accessible by a bridge on the Virginia side of the river not too far from the Kennedy Center — was acquired by the federal government in 1931 and re-imagined by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. with the heavy lifting done by the Civilian Conservation Corps. It is startlingly wild for the well-groomed national capital area and is intended to be a place of reflection and communion with nature. There are two miles of hiking trails. Although a memorial was always in the plans, Congress did not appropriate funds for it until 1960. It was dedicated in 1966. The monument, designed by Eric Gugler, is in the northern center of the island. The centerpiece, a 17-foot-high statue of the 26th President, by sculptor Paul Manship, stands in front of a 30 foot high shaft of granite, overlooking an oval terrace. The four granite stelae are engraved with 17 quotations on four topics: Nature, Manhood, Youth, and the State. TR was such a rambunctious man: one would expect his monument to be of him charging up San Juan Hill with his Rough Riders or something equally bellicose. Instead, this is a place to reflect on our relationship with nature, on courage, character and liberty. In that we find peace.
November 28, 1944
Rita Mae Brown
“The only queer people are those who don’t love anybody.”
November 29, 1969
“Choice is more than picking ‘x’ over ‘y.’ It is a responsibility to separate the meaningful and the uplifting from the trivial and the disheartening.”
November 30, 1947
“Every reiteration of the idea that nothing matters debases the human spirit.”
At a peaceCENTER’s meeting last week we were talking about the postal service and Andy quoted this poem, engraved on the pediments of the old District of Columbia Post office, now the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum, at N. Capitol & Massachusetts Ave, NE, on Capitol Hill. Built in 1914, this building served as the D.C. post office until 1986. (This is not the post office building on Pennsylvania Ave. that is now leased by the Trump Hotel.) The original of this inscription was called “The Letter” and was written by Dr. Charles W. Eliot, former president of Harvard University. President Woodrow Wilson changed the text slightly before the inscription was carved in the white granite of the Post Office. Messenger of Sympathy and Love / Servant of Parted Friends / Consoler of the Lonely / Bond of the Scattered Family / Enlarger of the Common Life / Carrier of News and Knowledge / Instrument of Trade and Industry / Promoter of Mutual Acquaintance / Of Peace and of Goodwill Among Men and Nations.
The Carn Heddwch (Peace Cairn) was constructed on Mynydd Llanfihangel Rhos y Corn, Carmarthenshire, in the Autumn of 2007. It has the word peace carved in four languages: Arabic, English, Hebrew and Welsh on different sides of the monument. The children of Brechfa school placed a time capsule in its center during its construction.
November 13, 1850
Robert Louis Stevenson
“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.”
November 14, 1889
“The only alternative to coexistence is codestruction.”
November 18, 1939
“Nothing makes me more nervous than people who say, ‘It can’t happen here.’ Anything can happen anywhere, given the right circumstances.”
This monument recalls the brutal murder of seven young black activists by South African security forces in 1986. The young men were on their way to what they believed to be a job interview in a minivan driven by an undercover security officer, when they stopped at a roadblock and the police opened fire. Security forces covered up the crime, claiming it was an act of terrorism, but the real story was exposed during the Truth and Reconciliation process and a memorial now stands at the site where they were killed. The monument was erected on On 21 March 2005 – South Africa’s Human Rights Day — and depicts Mandla Simon Mxinwa, Zanisile Zenith Mjobo, Zola Alfred Swelani, Godfrey Jabulani Miya, Christopher Piet, Themba Mlifi and Zabonke John Konile.
November 7, 1913
“The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.”
November 8, 1897
“We have all known the long loneliness, and we have found that the answer is community.”
November 10, 1483
“You are not only responsible for what you say, but also for what you do not say.”
On the campus of the University for Peace (the only university chartered by the United Nations) this monument, sculpted by Cuban artist Thelvia Marín in 1987, includes nine 12-foot columns hosting a sculpture on each side. The columns are lined up in a spiral, symbolizing the infinite quest for peace. Images on the outside of each column depict a historic moment of Costa Rica’s growth and strides toward peace, while the inward facing image shows the leader influential in the effort. For example, one column shows a figure using a hammer to destroy the wall of a building, duplicating a famous picture of former president Jose Figueres symbolically breaking the wall of the army headquarters when he abolished the army in 1948. Another hosts an image of two figures reading a newspaper. On the inner side is the sculpted face of former president Juan Mora Fernández who fought for freedom of the press. This right was granted to Costa Rican citizens in Article 29 of the Constitution, which is quoted beneath the art.