Rev. Dr. Ann Van Cleef, a member of Greenport Rotary, planted the North Fork’s first Peace Pole at Orient Congregational Church where she was pastor in 2011, two years after first learning about them at a conference in Melbourne, Australia in 2009.
On Tuesday morning, at a dedication ceremony, she helped unveil Greenport Rotary’s newly installed Peace Pole by the Rotary Gazebo in the municipal parking lot at Main and Adams streets.
The peace pole was part of a number of renovations done to the gazebo, which included a new roof, according to Rotary President George Marisch.
“This is the cornerstone of our beautification project of the gazebo,” he said.
Peace Poles are a symbol of May Peace Prevail on Earth International, which was founded in Japan over 50 years ago, according to its website.
The organization is the founder and headquarters of the global Peace Pole project movement. It describes itself as “a grassroots movement committed to the awakening of consciousness by planting the message of peace in the hearts and minds of our global family.” Its website estimates that there are over 200,000 peace poles planted across the world.
The white pole across from the Rotary gazebo says: “May Peace Prevail on Earth,” in eight languages on each side. The Rev. Van Cleef said the purchaser can decide which languages to display on the pole.
During the ceremony, the Rev. Van Cleef noted the eight languages on Greenport’s Peace Pole and explained the reason why those languages were chosen. The languages displayed are: English, Spanish, Hebrew, Greek, German, Chinese, Polish and Ukrainian.
For example, the Rotary chose Ukrainian to honor their people’s struggle due to the recent war.
“The language of a brave and noble people who are engaged in defending their homeland against unnecessary and unwarranted aggression,” the Rev. Van Cleef said.
Another example was Polish to honor North Forkers of Polish descent.
“The language of a freedom-loving people, and the ancestral language of many of the citizens of our area,” she said.
She led the group in a small prayer to close the ceremony.
A Rotarian of 35 years, Richard Israel was one of over a dozen Rotary members in attendance. He said the Peace Pole represents what Rotary is all about.
“Rotary believes that through understanding and education, there is no difference between me and you,” Mr. Israel said. Rotarian Arlene Klein echoed Mr. Israel’s statements.
“I think this symbolizes what Rotary is,” she said. “It’s just peace and helping humanity.”