AMERICA’S MEMORIAL TO PACIFISM
The Pacifist Memorial was created as a community service project by the students and staff of The Life Experience School in 1994 as a result of the inspiration of President Kennedy’s quote regarding conscientious objection. Students and staff worked for over two years on the project and borrowed money against the equity of the Schoolhouse to create what has come to be known as America’s Memorial to Pacifism.
The Pacifist Memorial, bearing witness to humanity’s long-cherished pursuit of justice and peace through nonviolence and love, stands on the grounds of The Peace Abbey in Sherborn, Massachusetts. On October 2, 1994, the 125th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, The Pacifist Memorial was dedicated. These grounds, already hallowed by constant prayer, the lives of students and teachers, the footsteps of saints, sages and activists famous and humble, welcome you on your journey of peacemaking. Both in its component parts and collectively, the Memorial seeks to inspire those who come here with the spirit of those remarkable women and men it commemorates, a spirit of remembrance and vigilance, courage and transformation.
Gandhi and The Walls of Names
In the center of the Memorial stands a statue of Mahatma Gandhi, created by the Georgian born, internationally recognized sculptor, Lado Goudjabidze. Gandhi was not only a central pacifist of ourtime; his life and philosophy inspired generations of nonviolent peacemakers, including Dr. King and President Mandella. In the face of ethnic conflict and struggles for liberation, we remember Gandhi, who accomplished the freeing of a multiethnic, religiously diverse people through the power of love and nonviolence alone.Radiating out from the statue of Gandhi are six brick walls, on which are recorded the names of and quotations from sixty peacemakers, thirty men and thirty women. Some are well-recognized, others lesser known, but each contributed courageously to the path of peace, facing misunderstanding, hardship, and often death in its cause. A select committee examined a number of nominations before choosing these initial sixty; other names and quotations will be added to the Memorial on an ongoing basis. Nomination sheets are available to all.
At the heads of each wall are engraved one of the Peace Seeds, a condensed form of the Sacred Office of Peace. These prayers for peace from each of the world’s major faith traditions were first prayed at a convocation of religious leaders at Assisi, Italy in1986 called by Pope John Paul II. Students, staff, and many friends of the School and Abbey pray them daily; copies are available.
It is our hope and purpose that this Memorial, dedicated to the spirit of pacifism and to the women and men who have embodied it, will nourish and encourage the transformation of our families, our neighborhoods, and of ourselves as instruments of deep and lasting peace. In remembering the heroes and heroines of nonviolence, let us fully embrace our heritage; in vigilance, let us be attentive and mindful of our susceptibility to anger and its result, and to the opportunities for love and healing around and within us. With courage, let us recommit ourselves and our nation to the peaceful way, knowing it is “better to suffer injustice than to inflict it, to love an enemy than to be one.” And may we move out from this sacred place to fully transform our planet.