Sept. 25, 2006
Delano School observes International Peace Day
By Ryan Gueningsman
In commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the United Nations International Peace Day, more than 2,000 students from Delano schools spelled out the words “World Peace” on the football field Thursday morning.
Aerial photos were taken of the event by the school and Herald Journal Sports Editor Matt Kane. Twin Cities television network Kare 11 also did a flyover of the event, and noted it in their evening broadcast Thursday.
In addition to this tribute to peace, a program also took place that included speeches from Delano Mayor Jon Steinmetz, Delano High School graduate Jake Workman, and former principal Ted May.
The student body also sang several songs, including “Let There be Peace on Earth,” which was led by elementary music teacher Sandy Meyerson to conclude the program.
Ted May’s speech
It’s great to be back in this place, where youth carry out the battles of hard and disciplined struggle on the athletic field; it’s great to be back in this school where the battle of ideas and scholarly competition are exchanged in a curriculum that is among the finest in Minnesota schools and is taught by competent and compassionate teachers; it’s great to be in this school where victory is measured in the triumph of human potential.
And peace is publicly celebrated in word and action.
Today, Delano Schools joins thousand of other schools across the globe in this observance of peace.
We recognize that in a nation at battle there exists the higher instincts and the difficult challenges of peace. We realize that your counterparts, boys and girls, throughout the world do not have the luxury of blue skies, football stadiums, warm clothes or school houses because they live under the devastation of war and want.
It is to them that our lessons today must be dedicated. It is to them, whose distant smiles cry with hope, that the need for peace is most important.
It is to them that we reach our hands and hearts across the sea, and say to our brothers and sisters in the war torn regions of the globe we, in America; we, in Delano, believe in you and believe in peace and will devote our lives to both.
But we need not travel to distant lands to view the absence of peace or comfort in the lives of people.
Last night, 2,000 people slept in the streets of Minneapolis and Saint Paul. And of those 2,000 people, 15 percent of them were children.
Did they have a peaceful sleep? Did they have a restful night under the bridges with cardboard boxes as their blankets? Were those children ready for school this morning?
The fear of homelessness and terror of often hunger places our fellow citizens at war with the society in which they live. It is gratifying to know that young people in our community have volunteered to aid those for whom life is a daily battle.
The study of peace has a proper place in your curriculum.
Thomas Jefferson said, “An educated citizenry is our nation’s greatest defense.”
For those of you in the elementary school, may you be our foot solders of freedom. As you learn the rules of your community, you will discover that peace is foremost among them. You will learn that tolerance for differences and respect for other creeds, colors, and cultures will make your life happier.
For those in the Tiger Middle School, may you be our troops for truth to assure that our country’s policies are always on an honorable path. And as you view the vast cyber world that lies before you, may you realize that you can achieve peace with your hands if you let it live in your heart.
For the high school students, at one of Minnesota’s premier high schools, may you be our centurions for civil society.
As you stand on the threshold of adulthood and step forward to seize the mantle of leadership in American society, you will see a new age of transformational age in international diplomacy, an age of that combines global goodness and power.
If you do not aggressively seek peace in your time, the prospects of terrorism will turn mighty nations into ash heaps, turn powerful weapons into sling shots and make ghosts out of good people.
As the great American statesman Hubert Humphrey said: “When I hear the national anthem, I feel twinges of emotion. When I see our national flag waving in the wind, my heart wells with pride. I have loved my country in a way that some people consider sentimental and out of style. I still do and I remain an optimist, with joy and without apology, about this country and the American experiment in democracy.”
As you leave this assembly this morning and return to your classrooms, as you learn that the real heroes of history are the peacemakers, as you share your ideas of peace with your families and your community, as you practice the principles of non-violence with each other, may you also sense that devotion to a democratic way of life will always be the most best route to peace and happiness.
When the history of this school is written, when the history of your generation is recorded, it will say that at Delano Public Schools in 2006, peace was not ignored, it was honored.
And if you do that, if you seek peace in your schools and in your world, you will light a new fire and, as President Kennedy said, “The glow from the fire will truly light the world.”