LONDON, July 29, 2012 - This was the theme last night as former Olympians and noted peace advocates gathered to celebrate the unveiling of the World Peace Dreamer Statue at University College London.
The bronze sculpture depicts founder of the World Harmony Run Sri Chinmoy holding the Peace Torch, which has been carried for 25 years through over 100 nations as runners traverse the world promoting peace and harmony.
People of all nations, faiths, and cultures are invited to hold the Torch when they visit the statue and create their own moment of peace. The World Peace Dreamer links the visionaries of the past to those of the future, and hopes to inspire future generations of peacemakers.
In addition to Sri Chinmoy, five other “Peace Dreamers” were honored in the ceremony: Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela, Jesse Owens, Muhammad Ali, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Speeches honoring the five peace activists featured spoken word performances by a local youth choir, after which representatives of each honoree were invited to hold the Torch and reflect on world peace.
“Our lives are defined by connections to others. We are a global family,” said Marlene Owens-Rankin, daughter of athlete and humanitarian Jesse Owens. “This statue is a constant reminder to people that world peace can be achieved if we connect to others.”
Other guest speakers echoed her sentiment, including Reverend Mpho Tutu, daughter of Archbishop Desmond Tutu; Dr. Bernice A King, daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; and Sibongile Mkhabela, CEO of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Foundation.
Khaliah Ali, daughter of Muhammad Ali, encouraged others to look inside themselves and take action from within to spread peace and goodness. She cited her father as an example: “his level of self-respect and love allowed him to love and respect the world.”
“If there is one word to map the road to peace, it is love.”
Former Olympians who were in attendance to present the statue to London for the XXX Olympiad included long jump record-holder Bob Beamon, long-distance runner Tegla Loroupe; and blind Olympic-turned-Paralympic boxer Jorge Pina.
Nine-time Olympic champion Carl Lewis officially unveiled the statue of Sri Chinmoy, a man he described as his mentor of over thirty years. “It is our hope that this statue will remind us of the highest ideals of the Olympic Games – peace and friendship between all nations.”
The ceremony also marked the opening of the World Harmony Art Exhibition, where over 40 pieces of art created by Olympians, along with paintings by Sri Chinmoy, will be on display in the college’s Main Wilkins Building.
The World Peace Dreamer statue will be at University College London until the end of the 2012 Olympic Games, after which it will be moved to a permanent location in London.