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Students create symbols of peace for Afghanistan

Monday, Feb. 10 | By Hannah Dellinger
From left, Warrenton Town Council member, Yak Lubowsky, his daughter, Cassandra Lubowsky, Communities of Peace president, GerryEinter and pilot James Powell stand with the peace pole before is is loaded onto a U.S. military plane and heads to Afghanistan. Courtesy Gerry Eitner
A Fauquier County resident and a group of students have come together to dedicate a symbol of peace to the Afghan High Council for Peace.

Gerry Eitner, a Warrenton resident and president of the Communities of Peace Foundation, has worked over the years with many students and local residents to create international symbols of peace. Her current project is getting an eight-foot high “peace pole” to the Afghan High Council for Peace (AHCP) headquarters in Kabul.

“The overall goal is to emphasize what we, as humanity want, and that’s peace on earth,” said Eitner in a phone interview.

Eitner was inspired by a project that was started in 1955 in Japan by a man named, Masahisa Goi. He made the original peace pole after the bombings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. His peace pole was inscribed with the words, “may peace prevail on earth” in Japanese and was intended to be a simple universal symbol of the desire for world peace.

The peace pole movement gained international popularity in the early 1980s and the World Peace Prayer Society (WPPS) has continued the project over the years. More than 10,000 peace poles have been placed around the world in over 180 countries.

Eitner ordered the peace pole from WPPS and had the phrase “may peace prevail on earth” painted on in it English, Dari and Pashto (both spoken in Afghanistan.)

The pole, along with written prayers and well wishes from over 150 Fauquier County children elementary through high school age, were recently sent in a military plane to the Bagram military base in Afghanistan, and will travel to the AHCP headquarters from there.

A dedication ceremony for the pole will eventually be held at the AHCP once it arrives. According to Eitner, the dedication will be delayed until after the Afghani elections are held, so that the event will receive more attention from the public. Eitner has been invited to the upcoming ceremony, but hasn’t decided yet if she will be possible – or safe – for her to attend.

“I would love to be there, but I’m just delaying my decision to see how it will play out,” said Eitner. “Of course I want to be safe and it’s something that I’m considering.”

Eitner, Warrenton Town Council member, Yak Lubowsky and his daughter, Cassandra Lubowsky, delivered the peace pole and the children’s prayers to the Martinsburg 167th Airlift Wing in West Virginia on Jan. 15.

Cassandra, a senior at Fauquier High School, worked to collect prayers and well-wishes from students at her school as a project for her geopolitics class.

“I set up a table at lunch with a sign taped to the front that read ‘Communities of Peace, May Peace Prevail on Earth, Give a Little Love,’” said Cassandra in an email. “To my surprise many students who I had never met came up to me and willingly wrote a note for peace.”
Cassandra said that many of Eitner’s peace projects use the energy from a certain type of magic that a child’s love can emanate.

“I have high hopes for the Peace Pole as it continues on its journey towards its final destination,” said Cassandra. “It has not only touched the hearts of children, members of the Afghan Embassy in D.C., and everyone else who has helped the pole on its journey, but it has taught me this valuable lesson: ‘Peace’ is a small, simplistic term that has many meanings and the success of peace derives from how the people put their definition of the word into action and with the promising notes of love from my peers, the future, our future, appears to already seem a bit brighter.”

Eitner has also worked with Fauquier County children on a project that she calls, “the children’s cloth of many colors,” which is an adaptation to the “cloth of many colors” project, started by James Twyman in 1998 to promote peace during Kosovo’s ethnic war.
An 8-year-old girl, named Brynn Stavely, came up with the original idea for the children’s cloth. At a 2000 peace pole dedication at the Pentagon, the girl proclaimed her idea to Eitner to put together a quilt made by children from all over the world.

For the past decade, Eitner has helped organize the making of the children’s cloth. It is now over a third of a mile long and contains sections made from thousands of children from 31 different countries, and is still expanding.

Seventy-five P.B. Smith Elementary School students recently contributed to the cloth. The students were able to present their section of the cloth to the chairman of the AHCP, Salahuddin Rabbani, at the Afghan Embassy in D.C. this past December.

Chase, a student at P.B. Smith, told Eitner that the experience was something that he is very grateful for.

“It was an amazing honor to go and I would do almost anything to go back again. I think more American kids should have a chance to do,” said Chase.

Eitner said that the students were able to learn about Afghan culture and history at the embassy.

“We didn’t go into the politics,” said Eitner. “We just expressed that we love children everywhere and that we want to achieve sustainable peace all over the world.”

Eitner said that the peace pole and the children’s cloth our a package gift to the people of Afghanistan.

“The children’s cloth of many colors and the peace pole are great partners,” said Eitner. “They’re both great visuals, carrying an energy of love, innocence and simplicity.”

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