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D. Programme for IYC at the USA National Visitor Center in Washington DC.

D. Programme for IYC at the USA National Visitor Center in Washington DC. Guest Speakers Representative Geraldine Ferraror, USA Parks Dept.


On 23 May,1979 the Meditation Group was invited to join with the U.S. National Park Service to honour the International Year of the Child in a reception and tree planting ceremony held at the National Visitor Center in Washington. The programme coincided with the opening of a two-month exhibit in the Visitor Center of Sri Chinmoy's paintings, dedicated to IYC and sponsored by the Park Service.

The reception included remarks by representatives of the Park Service and the IYC Secretariat, and by Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro, as well as a short meditation by Sri Chinmoy. Under-Secretary of the Interior James A. Joseph unveiled a tree dedicated to the International Year of the Child. Attached was a plaque with a quote by the Secretary of the Department of the Interior, Cecil D. Andrus, as well as Sri Chinmoy's IYC song.

Fourth and fifth graders from the Chevy Chase Elementary School Choir sang Sri Chinmoy's "This Is My Year," and the Meditation Group Singers prformed other UN Songs. Later Sri Chinmoy offered an esraj concert.

Excerpts from the programme follow.

Mr. Ira Hutchison, Deputy Regional Director of the National Parks Service:

It is indeed my sincere pleasure to welcome each of you to the National Visitor Center for what I happen to believe is a very
special and meaningful occasion, and I would assume, by your presence, that you share that feeling with me. On behal f of National Park Service Director, Phil Whalen, I would like to say that the ationa l Park Service is extremely pleased to be a part of this programme, one which is dedicated to the children of the world , the future of tomorrow, if you please. We are indeed delighted to see so many of you here and appreciate the fact that so many  of you from the Congress and the diplomatic nd art communities, as well as others, have taken time from your busy schedule to be here to pay tribute to the Year of the Child and the works of Sri Chinmoy.

Mr. Kevin Adhiratha. Keefe, UNICEF, for IYC Secretariat:

(Seated: James A . Joseph, Under-Secretary of the Interior; Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro;  Sri Chinmoy) 

I am very happy to be here today on behalf of the YC Secretariat. At this time UNICEF, which has been appointed as the main co-ordinating body for the International Year of the Child, is having its Executive Board meeting in Mexico City. Because of this meeting, Dr. Estefania Aldaba-Lim, Assistant Secretary-General and Special Representative for IYC, was unfortunately not able to be with us today. I know how much she would appreciate this programme in the National Visitor Center.

Twenty years ago the Declaration of the Rights of the Child was unanimously passed by the General Assembly. We are very much aware today that it is still a far cry from total implementation. However, as Dr. Lim has pointed out on other occasions, we also want to keep in mind throughout the Year the truth, the beauty and the joy of Childhood. 

We feel in the IYC Secretariat that it is very appropriate that the National Parks Service and the Department of the Interior are part of this programme in support of the International Year of the Child for it is the Department of the Interior and the National Parks Service in this country that are very much kept alive the spirit of the child within all of us. We are very grateful for those organisations that are trying to keep the spirit alive in us. We also feel it is very appropriate that the Meditation Group and similar organisations have offered their wholehearte d support to the Internatonal Year of the Child.

As I understand meditation, it is to bring forth this spirit of positive good within us, to bring to the fore - if you will allow me to use the expression - the divine child or the eternal child, that spark with in all of us.

For many of you that are here, the is is not the first time you have supported something to do with children and I am sure it won't be the last. That is the spirit of the Year as it was created - to bring a focus on the problems and on the opportunities of the children of the world and to bring even more of a focus on their future.

The IYC won't end with 1979. Those of us who work with international
organisations or national, unilateral or biateral aid organisations, appreciate your support - from the members of Congress and members of the governmental agencies throughout the world. We depend on and will continue to count on your support, both through your governments and through your individual efforts. Thank you very much. 

The Honourable Geraldine Ferraro, Congresswoman from New York:

International Year of the Child is an appropriate time for us to recognise the simplicity and unabashed freedom of the childlike
spirit, to draw from those values and incorporate  them into our adult lives. We tend to believe that maturity requires us to abandon what we believed in as children. Yet our society would function at its fullest potential if we were to combine the values of childhood with the reason of adulthood. Compassion. which is innate in our children. becomes too tied up with the dollars and cents considerations of adults.

As a member of Congress. I see my colleagues nd I attempting to rationalise necessary humane legislation in terms of the fact that in the long run it will save us money. But our obligation is to legislate with compassion. to devise social programmes and solve national problems with compassion. to bring to our government the same
compassion that we were born with. Our responsi bility is to be careful not to substitute talk of cost effectiveness for talk of compassion for the weak and the needy.

Our government and our corporate boardrooms would be better served and would better serve the needs of this nation. would better reflect what we should represent. if we could bring to them the freedom from prejudice that our children bring to their lives; and as a first task in the International Year of the Child. bring to our adult society the precious values of our children, to rise above the
petty prejudices and inhibitions of adulthood, and hopefully lead our nation and the world in compassion for others.

But that is only half of the responsibility that the International Year of the Child places upon us. We also have an obligation to protect and to preserve our children. It is incomprehensible that in our
modern society. child abuse has reached epidemic proportions. It is wrong for this nation , the richest in the world. to have starving children in our urban ghettos and our underprivileged rural areas. Our obligation is to protect the childlike Spirit against those who seek to break it . whether consciously through abuse or whether unconsciously through neglect.

The International Year of the Child should serve  as a starting point for us . It should be a springboard for renewed awareness of the value of our children. and of our need to protect them as they remain vulnerable. I hope that it will not just be talk for this year. and this year alone. The International Year of the Child must become more than a one-year celebration. It must become more than just words . It must become deeds . It should remain a lifelong- commitment to children of this and every generation to come. Thank you.

The Honourable James A . Joseph, Under-Secretary of the Interior:

In this ceremony to commemorate the International Year of the Child, we will be unveiling a plaque and later we will be dedicating a tree. In reflecting on that I recall the words of Joyce Kilmer, that  "Poems are made by fools like me, but only God can make a tree." There is something spiritual in a tree, as there is something spiritual in a child  A tree symbolises our faith in the future, as a child symbolises our hopes for that future.

Like the tree, the child must struggle for life and growth. In order to reach maturity, it must survive the winter storms, both of nature and the spirit. Without young trees, our forests die. Without
children, humanity would wither and fail. The young tree that replenishes the forest does not know whether it will prosper and grow to maturity. Like wise the ch ild rarely pauses to analyze its chances of success. Instead, it bounds ahead joyously. unfettered
by the bitter knowledge of success and failure which comes to him later in life.

Those of us who have devoted our lives to the struggle for dignity and decency can add a personal note. When we marched in the streets to preserve and protect inalienable rights, we believed that the struggle was for us. the participants . Looking- back, we now know tha t the battle was not for us at all. but for our children and our children's children. The struggle to establish justice, to ensure domestic tranquility, and to promote the common welfare, must exist in perpetuity. We know that justice is not a self-fulfilling prophecy and freedom not a guaranteed condition. They are instead the product of eternal vigilance, to be secured by each succeeding generation in the onward march of humankind.

To paraphrase the Robert Frost quotation, which was a fa vourite of the late Robert Kennedy.  the world will always have those who see things asthey are and ask why. What the world needs are those who see things as they might be and ask why not. This, I submit to you, is the special province of the child, because in those of us who are older, there reside forces which too easily sound the trumpets of alarm, forces which whisper that the task is too difficu lt or that somehow we cannot succeed. Such forces rarely reside in the child.
So it is with a special sense of pride that I participat in the symbolic dedication of a tree to the children of the world and to the spirit of the child, which I hope will continue to reside in each of us.
Thank you.

Mr. Loren Hart, aged 6, shakes hands with National Park Service Deputy Director Mr. Ira Hutchison, after un veiling the commemorative plaque for the dedication of the "Children 's Tree. "

The Chevy Chase Elementary School Choir performs "This Is My Year."


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