About 100 stalwarts — with and without umbrellas — braved the rain on Jan. 23 to celebrate the dedication of a “peace pole” in UCLA’s Meyerhoff Park. Soggy spectators cheerfully gathered on the grassy hill outside of Kerckhoff Hall to take their first look at the eight-foot-tall limestone monument, inscribed with the words “May peace prevail on Earth” in 14 languages.
“It’s terrible weather, but we all recognize that, rain or shine, we are here for an extremely important purpose,” said Chancellor Gene Block. “You all recognize as well as I do that peace is not a passive process. … It happens because of effort. And the kinds of effort I’m talking about we’re all familiar with. It’s compassion; it’s understanding; it’s willingness to recognize that human beings are all the same.
“If everyone recognizes that, that gives us a real chance to have world peace,” Block said.
The crowd listened to brief remarks by Undergraduate Students Association Council President Homaira Hosseini and by third-year political science student Ben Moore, who initiated the idea of bringing a peace pole to UCLA. Together with Chancellor Block, Hosseini pulled a green ribbon that was tied around the peace pole — the first one to be installed on the campus of a major American university.
Fourteen UCLA students then stepped up to recite the pole’s message, each one in a different language. Finally, the crowd engaged in an enthusiastic UCLA eight-clap, but instead of the usual “Fight, fight, fight” at the end of the cheer, everyone chanted, “Peace, peace, peace!”
Julie Skrupa, an administrative specialist in the chancellor’s office, came out in the rain to witness the dedication. “After 9/11 happened, I was living in Boston. And in August 2002, there was a peace pole at an event I was working,” she said. “So it’s something I truly believe in, something I think is wonderful, and it makes a very strong statement about how we as humans should be living and the things we should be remembering. So when I found out we were doing this on campus, I decided I wouldn’t miss it.”