SHERBORN — Those who drive by the former Peace Abbey near Sherborn Center may see the statues of Gandhi and Emily the Cow, the walls that commemorate the peacemakers of the world, and the construction behind that sometimes unsettles the peace.
On Friday, while conversion of the Peace Abbey buildings to the over-55 housing project Abbey Road proceeded, a special ceremony at Peace Memorial Park honored a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War. His name was added to the stone marker inscribed with other COs, whose cremated remains are buried nearby.
The difference? Vince Trankina is still alive.
Trankina, an actor, musician, producer, an industry analyst for the online magazine Digital Journal Online and president of an independent development company, “Artsy Guys Productions,” performed two years of alternate civilian service during the Vietnam era. He worked with the handicapped at Goodwill Industries and helped fight forest fires alongside felons from San Quentin and Folsom prisons in the California Ecology Corps.
“This is very gratifying of my time as a conscientious objector, resisting the draft and war, and doing alternate service,” said Trankina. “This is a home for my spirit and my remains; to share with those are here, it’s extremely gratifying.”
Trankina learned about Lewis Randa, founder of the Peace Abbey and executive of the Life Experience School in Millis, online.
“I discovered the work of Lewis Randa, and I was impressed with his work over the years,” he said.
He contacted Randa, who arranged to have Trankina’s name inscribed on the stone and to have Trankina’s cremated remains brought here when the time comes.
No formal ceremony was held; instead, Randa, Trankina and members from the Life Experience School, watched Brian Starr and Jamie Davis from Natick Memorial Works prepare the stone, place a stencil of Trankina’s name on the appropriate spot, then sandblasted the name into the stone.
Before the crew began its work, Randa and the members from the school — Eric Folan from Walpole, Philip Lussier from Milton, and Maureen Meninno from Sherborn — conducted a prayer service for victims of violence.
Folan read off the names, which included the police officers from Dallas killed by sniper gunfire on Thursday. Randa then lifted a stone inscribed with a prayer from St. Francis of Assisi, uncovering pieces of paper and symbolic beads from previous services. He and Meninno added the paper containing the victims’ names, with beads for each name, before putting the stone back in place.
Peace Park’s still around, and active
When the Peace Abbey was sold a few years ago, Randa stipulated that the Peace Memorial Park remain intact.
Visitors still come to the Gandhi statue, as evidenced by the currency left at its feet. Randa said, “The coins are worth more where they remain than if they were deposited in a bank,” adding that it’s a valuable lesson in trust.
Randa added that more bronze plaques will be added to the wall that flank the Gandhi statue, including words from rock legends George Harrison and Richie Havens.
As for the Abbey Road project, Randa hopes that residents from that community will help maintain the park.
For more information, contact Randa at the Life Experience School, 16 Lavender St., Millis, at 508-376-4321, or visit www.lesmillis.org.