Peace Day Candlelight Vigil
held on September 21, 2016
at Lihue Hongwanji on the front lawn.
International Peace Day: September 21
The International Day of Peace was established in 1981 by the United Nations to coincide with the opening of the UN General Assembly. In 2002, September 21st became the permanent date for the International Day of Peace, as a period of non-violence and cease-fire, to strengthen the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples.
To inaugurate the day, the United Nations Peace Bell, originally donated by the UN Association of Japan in June, 1954, is rung at UN Headquarters in New York City. The Peace Bell was cast from coins and medals donated by the representatives of the UN Member States, the Pope, and individuals from over 60 different nations. The bell tower was modeled after a Japanese Hanamido, a small temple decorated with flowers that symbolizes the place where Buddha was born. The inscription on the side of the bell reads, "Long live absolute world peace".
In 2007, Hawaii became the first state to recognize Peace Day. On April 18th, 2007, Representative Jon Riki Karamatsu introduced House Bill 345 to the Hawaii legislature. It became a law that established a Peace Day, a non-holiday, to be observed on September 21 of each year in the State of Hawaii “to promote peace programs, improve international relations, and increase educational awareness of peace.”
Representative Karamatsu was inspired to introduce this bill after being approached by Hawai`i Federation of Junior Young Buddhist Association (Jr. YBA) members, who presented a similar resolution to the Honpa Legislative Assembly. September 21st was chosen because it was already designated as the International Day of Peace by the United Nations. As told by Jonathan Gates, a senior at Kaimuki High School at the time of the creation of Hawaii’s Peace Day and member of the Hawai`i Federation of Jr. YBA, "In this tumultuous world today, the idea of peace seems far out of reach. Peace Day will help to open the doors to facilitate more cooperation in the name of peace education and outreach, which will benefit us all."
Each year the International Day of Peace is observed around the world on September 21. The United Nations General Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples.