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Great Britain 28 July: London
Renowned Olympians, peace leaders, artists and musicians came together on 28 July 2012 at University College London’s Olympic Centre to celebrate the Olympic spirit of peace and universal friendship at a special event entitled “A Moment’s Peace.”
After a lot of preparation, the day finally came! Set up is just about complete and gates open to the public soon
9-time Olympic gold medalist Carl Lewis arrives and conducts interviews with young journalists from around the world.
Trumpeters stand ready to signal the start of the event.
Trumpets blare from the majestic steps of the Main Wilkins Building.
Devashishu Torpy is Master of Ceremonies, welcoming everyone.
Vice-Provost Prof. Michael Worton welcomes the audience.
Cathy Oerter, co-founder of Art of the Olympians with her late husband Olympian Al Oerter, was a special catalyst for the event as a whole. Art of the Olympians is a global learning center, which brings together Olympic athletes to promote the highest ideals of humanity. Through the creative talents of the Olympians who take part, it is able to provide programmes of art, education, sport and cultural outreach to showcase the relationship between sport and art.
A Moment’s Peace was one of the events being hosted by Art of the Olympians during the 2012 Olympics. Over 40 pieces of art by over 20 Olympians will be on display at two venues. Art was an official feature of the early Olympic Games, with art competitions being held during the games until 1948.
Renowned Olympian Bob Beamon is CEO of Art of the Olympians and a special guest speaker at A Moment's Peace. Bob Beamon immortalised himself in sporting history when he destroyed the World and Olympic records in the long jump during the 1968 games in Mexico City. That Olympic Record remains unbroken heading into the London 2012 Olympics. Today, he is CEO of the Art of the Olympians Foundation, dedicated to inspiring creativity and stimulating change through an international programme of art, education and outreach initiatives.
The World Harmony Run torches are carried in by an international team of runners, makin g a dazzling entrance.
Beacons are lit with the torches to the trupets playing the World Harmony Run theme song.
Next was an inspiring video of the Spirit of the Olympics on one of the official Olympic venue screens.
Carl Lewis sees footage of himself winning gold... on multiple occasions.
The video features footage of Sri Chinmoy with Olympic friends Carl Lewis, Muhammad Ali, Jesse Owens, Al Oerter, Amil Zatopek, Bob Beamon, and Tegla Loroupe.
Desmond Tutu sent a personal address to commemorate the event.
Eric Peterson, author of Light and Liberty, describes the significance of visionaries and peace dreamers.
Carl Lewis described his close relationship with Sri Chinmoy and how he came to every one of his Olympic competitions. Carl described how Sri Chinmoy inspired him, and constantly pushed him to do better. He told of one time when Sri Chinmoy caught him looking to the side at his competitors during a sprint. Carl initially denied it, but Sri Chinmoy showed him the photos he took showing him looking sideways!
Baroness Shreela Flather, a long-time friend of Sri Chinmoy, came to join Carl to unveil the statue.
Olympians Tegla Loroupe and Bob Beamon join to invite the Mayors of the London Boroughs up to stage for the unveiling to receive the statue on behalf of the city of London.
The Sri Chinmoy International singers perform "A Moment's Peace," a song previously written by Sri Chinmoy.
Dr. Davidson Hepburn introduced the guest speakers. From 1978 to 1988 Dr. Hepburn was Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Bahamas to the United Nations, where he first met Sri Chinmoy. More recently, from 2009 to 2011, he served as the President of the General Conference of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). He has excelled as a negotiator, human rights specialist, writer and public speaker. Dr. Hepburn has encouraged the Peace and World Harmony runs for a number of years. His widely appreciated video message for the 25th anniversary of these runs has clips of actual events from around the world and subtitles in more than 25 languages
(l to r) The Reverend Mpho A Tutu, Khaliah Ali, Marlene Owens Rankin, Bernice A. King, Sibongile Mkhabela
Five special guests, who represent the aspiration of a new generation. They demonstate how inspiration is passed on. Through their tremendous work towards a more peaceful world, they have shown their courage, grace and selfgiving.
As part of the programme today, Dr.Hepburn used his award winning voice to also give beautiful expression to the immortal utterances of Desmond Tutu , Martin Luther King, Jesse Owens, Nelson Mandela and Muhammad Ali before each of the guest speakers he introduced (see below) came to the podium.
Words of Archbishop Desmond Tutu: "Out of the cacophony of random suffering and chaos that can mark human life,
the life artist sees or creates symphony of meaning or order.
A life of wholeness does not depend on WHAT we experience.
Wholeness depends on HOW we experience our lives." More
The Reverend Mpho A Tutu, an experienced preacher, teacher, and retreat facilitator gave an invocation for peace. With her father - Anglican Archbishop Emeritus of Capetown and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Desmond Tutu - she authored Made for Goodness. She graduated in 2003 from the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts and was ordained to the priesthood by her father in January, 2004.
" I don't know how well or long my Father knew Sri Chinmoy in a personal friendship or that kind of a relationship. I do know that their heart's met; that their soul's met; that they connected in a very profound way - as people who know, love and work for peace in a very real way.
"And for each of us we can walk away from this gathering with the recognition, that each of us has the capacity to make the world a better place"
Words of Martin Luther King Jr:
"Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.
I can never be what I ought to be
until you are what you ought to be.
This is the interrelated structure of reality." More
Bernice A. King is the youngest daughter of the late Coretta Scott King and Dr Martin Luther King Jr.
Bernice A. King began her oratorical journey when she spoke in her mother’s stead at the United Nations at age 17. As an author, she has to her credit Hard Questions, Heart Answers, a compelling and inspiring book. In January 2012, she was appointed by the Board of Trustees as CEO of The King Center, which was founded by her mother in 1968.
"There was indeed a kindred spirit between Sri Chinmoy and my father - And also my mother....
"If we are going to have Peace in this world, indeed we will need more peace makers. So my hope and prayer is that this wonderful statue will enlighten and inspire generations - even yet unborn - to become peacemakers. The more peacemakers we have then all the other forces will have to be at bay. "
Words of Jesse Owens:
"I always loved running - it was something you could do
by yourself and under your own power.
You could go in any direction, fast or slow as you wanted,
fighting the wind if you felt like it, seeking out new sights
just on the strength of your feet and the courage of your lungs. More
Marlene Owens Rankin, daughter of Olympic legend Jesse Owens, who won four gold medals in the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games.
Members of the Young Persons Theatre Company act out quotes from Desmond Tutu, Martin Luther King, Jesse Owens, Nelson Mandela and Muhammad Ali. Here they depict Jesse Owens.
Marlene Owens Rankin grew up watching her father, Jesse Owens, win worldwide athletic events only to be subjected to racism after returning home. Marlene was inspired to work to foster interracial understanding and help youth throughout her career. In 1990, Marlene became the executive director of the Jesse Owens Foundation, which was formed to perpetuate her father’s beliefs and indomitable spirit for future generations.
"In 1936, My Father, Jesse Owens, became known as a super athlete.. As many of you know he had a long journey... It was this journey that made him truly appreciate his good fortune and his belief in the good in people all over this diverse world...."
" In November 2002 Sri Chinmoy, graciously accepted the 'Jesse Owens Humanitarian Award.' for his lifetime efforts for world Peace. I believe that our lives are defined by connection to others. In essence, we are one family. Embracing this connection, is what it means to be truly and fully human and is a moral and spiritual imperative - to strive to make a difference in others people's lives."
Words of Nelson Mandela:
"No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion.
People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate,
they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally
to the human heart than its opposite." More
Sibongile Mkhabela joined the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund (NMCF) in 1999 as Programmes Director and was appointed as Chief Executive Officer in 2001. She is the architect of Sakha Ikusasa – NMCF’s strategy for the past 10 years and going forward to 2015. A former student leader who was involved in the struggle against the apartheid system, she is author of a book, Open Earth and Black Roses – a story of the landmark Soweto uprising on June 16, 1976.
"Sometimes I think if we did nothing else but simplify our lives we would probably begin to understand the likes of Sri Chinmoy.
"My experience with Sri Chinmoy was very simple - yet profound. We spoke and we spent - I want to believe - a day- together. For some reason he understood my pain. And between the two men, Mr.Mandela and him on the other side., I felt embraced.
"What keeps us apart and separates us often has nothing to do with what we have done and what we have achieved. It often has something to do with where we were born and to whom we were born.
"It creates for a responsibility to look for that which connects us - That which makes the poorest and the richest the same. ..."
"When we die, we die in exactly the same way. When we are born , we are born in exactly the same way. Things that keep us fighting are things that we have created, that we can in fact do without."
Words of Muhammad Ali: "Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they've been given than to explore the power they have to change it.
Impossible is not a fact. It's an opinion.
Impossible is not a declaration. It's a dare.
Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary.
Impossible is nothing." More
Khaliah Ali, daughter of Muhammad Ali, had a close friendship with Sri Chinmoy. Committed to helping young women everywhere develop and nurture positive self-image and esteem, Khaliah has worked on a number of television programmes and serves as a board member for the United Nations World Food Programme.
"The thing we often forget and the most important for children to know is that every day that you live, that you are blessed to be here on earth, then it is creating your legacy.
"The one thing that my father always said the resonated with me was - ‘you ain't taking it with you'. What you have left is your good deeds.
"I met Sri Chinmoy through my father. - yet another blessing. And I have to say, from that day forward, my life has never been the same. I miss him dearly, Yet I would be foolish if I became sad, because when I look out into this audience and all of the beautiful faces that are that are here, I see the expression of his love; his happiness ; his wisdom.:
"I am so honoured that I was called to come and speak today. I can't begin to capture my father's voice. But if there was one word to sum that up - it would simply be love. And at the end of the day when we talk about peace, it is love that would be the other word to cause balance. I think love is the one word that helps us figure it out and helps us to map the road to peace.; Peace in our soul. Peace in our community.
"I figured the best thing I could do is just come and truly share with you, from the inside, deeply and with gratitude the immense gifts that I have been given. And hopefully help you see yours. And continue to share. May God Bless and enrich all of you. And thank you so much."
A number of choirs in London came together to perform "Let There Be Peace on Earth" and later "Let It Be". The choirs included the Southfields Community College Gospel Choir, the London Youth Gospel Choir (LYGC), and the City Academy, Hackney.
Olympian and previous marathon world record holder Tegla Loroupe spoke of her close friendship with Sri Chinmoy. Tegla is an Ambassador of Sport for the United Nations, the International Association of Athletics Federations, and for UNICEF. In 2003, she founded an annual series of Peace Marathons in which presidents, prime ministers, ambassadors and government officials run with warriors and nomadic groups in her native Kenya, in Uganda and in Sudan, to bring peace to an area plagued by raiding warriors from battling tribes.
Speakers join Kaivalya Torpy (far left), the sculptor, for a photo.
In 2006, at the age of 30, professional boxer Jorge Pina (left) from Portugal incurred irreparable retina damage during a practice fight. He lost the sight in his left eye and about 70% of the sight in his right eye. When doctors informed him of his predicament, Jorge immediately asked, "Can I run?" and without a pause he switched gears to become a marathon runner. Despite his physical disability, Jorge has embraced a new sports career as a para-athlete. He took to the track as a runner and through dedicated training and sleepless determination he has qualified for the London Paralympic Games 2012. In October 2011 he founded the Association Jorge Pina with his close friend and television host Francisco Mendes (right). The short video Born Fighter has an inspiring tribute to the World Harmony Run.
Boris Purushottama Grebenshikov performs "Boat of Time Sails On", written specially for the event, based on a poem by Sri Chinmoy. Boris Purushottama Grebenshikov hails from St Petersburg, Russia. With the tenderness and insight of a poet he has captured the hearts of his fellow countrymen. As a young student in the Soviet Union in the early 70s he started experimenting with poetry, music and theatre – merging Eastern philosophies and traditional Russian themes. The prolific nature of his creativity is unprecedented. He has produced more than 50 albums since the formation of his renowned band, Aquarium, in 1972. In August 2007 he was invited to play at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. In 2008 Boris offered a concert at the Royal Albert Hall in celebration of the life of Sri Chinmoy (1931-2007).
Olympians past and present are invited to the stage for a group photo. They received a warm response from the audience, honouring their acheivements.
Rose Voisk, former Yugoslavia Olympian gymnast in London 1948 Olympics, roused everyone with an enthusiastic introduction and endorsement of the event. She described how she first competed in the Olympics at the 1948 London Olympic Games, which triggered cheers.
Each of the Olympians then introduced themselves to applause of admiration.
Many took the opportunity to point to Carl Lewis as being the culprit for their inspiration.
Cathy Read, former British Olympic swimmer, describes how moved she was by the ceremony and its spirit.
Former British Olympian Dalton Grant, a London 2012 Ambassador and from East End of London, inspires the crowd and gets everyone laughing and cheering. Dalton is one of Great Britain’s finest high jumpers, competing at the Seoul, Barcelona and Atlanta Olympic Games. He later said how honoured and grateful he was for London to receive the World Peace Dreamer statue.
Olympic legend high jumper Dick Fosbury, father of the "Fosbury Flop." When other Olympic high jumpers present heard he was in attendance, they immediately wanted to find out where he was so they could meet the man considered to be one of the most influential athletes in the history of track and field.Towering in both physical height and inspiration, he is the current President of the World Olympians Association. Dick Fosbury offered the final uplifting words from the attending Olympians.
The ceremony ended with the song "Let It Be," as members of the audience was invited to have their own Moment's Peace witht he statue's torch.
The World Harmony Run torch was also on hand for individuals to embrace and make a silent wish for peace.
The audience was then invited inside for a reception and opening of the World Harmony Art Exhibition of Sri Chinmoy's art, hosted by the Art of the Olympians, which features over 40 pieces of art by over 20 Olympians will be on display at two venues. Art was an official feature of the early Olympic Games, with art competitions being
held during the games until 1948.
Professor Naren Barfield, Pro Rector (Academic) and Fellow of the Royal College of Art opened the World Harmony Art Exhibition. Prior to his current post, he was Head of Research & Postgraduate Studies at The Glasgow School of Art.
After the ceremony, people lined up to have A Moment's Peace with the torch.
The next day, the statue had a new temporary location in the courtyard of the UCL campus.
The statue will be at the location for the duration of the Olympic Games in London. Feel free to stop by for your own Moment's Peace!
University College of London quad: 23-25 Gower Street, London
Gallery: See more images!
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