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Talking peace in times of war; Global conflicts on minds of speakers at annual International Day at CLV

Attendees form a circle Friday in the Peace Site at Concordia Language Villages during International Day in order to rededicate the monument. Event participants took turns saying “may peace prevail on Earth” in some of the 15 different languages represented at the site, which included French, Portuguese and Korean. Zach Kayser | Bemidji Pioneer

BEMIDJI -- Although it was a moment dedicated to global understanding, speakers at Concordia Language Villages' International Day could not help but mention war during the rededication of the camps' Peace Site on Friday.

Recent U.S. airstrikes in Iraq and the eruption of another round of bloodshed in Gaza crept into the remarks of Concordia College President William Craft, who used the events as evidence for the necessity of working toward global peace.

"Peace has not yet prevailed," he told the crowd.

Those same audience members would later gather in a circle at the site and say "may peace prevail on Earth" in Portuguese, Swedish, Korean and other languages.

To achieve peace, it must not be thought of not just as a static condition, but as a dynamic process, Craft said.

"Peace is an act... the radical act of imagining the lives of others," he said.

Lynn Elling, a World War II Navy veteran who founded World Citizen Inc., a St. Paul-based nonprofit that has placed dozens of Peace Sites around the country in addition to Concordia's, also mentioned brewing global conflicts. He has been witness to horrible battles at Tarawa and Guadalcanal, he said, making the current violence all the more horrifying.

"They're beating the drums for war," he said. "Beat the drums for peace."

Frieda Ekotto, professor of comparative literature and Francophone studies at the University of Michigan, shared her recollections of meeting Nelson Mandela. She described shaking with nervousness upon meeting the famous activist, who, upon seeing her anxiety, took her into his arms to comfort her.

Zach Kayser
Zach Kayser covers local government and city issues for the Pioneer. He previously worked for the Wadena Pioneer Journal, and is an alumni of the University of Minnesota, Morris. 
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