By Lee Ann Garrett
The image of a single white dove adorned many of the faces gathered Saturday at Salisbury City Park.
We not only seek peace here today, Betty Jo Hardy said in her welcome speech, we dare to seek peace in our world.
The event was not anti-war. Salisburys fourth annual Lets Get Connected Day wasnt anti-anything. The mood of the more than 100 people attending was one of acceptance.
Hardy, a member of Covenant Community Connection, a subgroup of the Salisbury Rowan Human Relations Council, was the first to speak at the event that included music, poetry and proclamations from both Mayor Susan Kluttz and County Commissioner Tina Hall.
The purpose of this event is to connect people across racial, religious and cultural boundaries simply to get to know each other, said Ruth Chaparro, multi-cultural programs coordinator for the city of Salisbury.
The focus of this years event was the dedication of a peace pole. The pole will become a permanent part of the park and is inscribed with the words May Peace Prevail on Earth in eight languages. English, Swahili, Chinese, Hindi, Hebrew, Arabic, Spanish and Cherokee. The dedication is part of a project started by the World Peace Society and is one of more than 200,000 such poles dedicated around the world.
Soft drumbeats filled the shady area next to shelter No. 1 as participants encircled the peace pole while prayers of unity and peace were sung or spoken in different languages and the strains of Amazing Grace was played on the bagpipes.
There is beauty in the diversity that you have created in us, Kluttz spoke quietly in her prayer.
Tiffany Miller, director of the childrens dance team, Glory Praisers, from Mount Zion Baptist Church, remarked on the diversity of her group while onlookers enjoyed their performance. We dont use the word cant, Miller said. Her group is diverse because it includes two children who have spina bifida and cerebral palsy.
The event provided an opportunity to see the diverse populations Salisbury represents and allowed people of different backgrounds and cultures to share customs and talk about everything from religious similarities to video games. Dave McKenzie remarked on his traditional Scottish garb.
Traditionally, these were used for combat purposes, he said.
Although the focus was diversity and peace, thoughts were still with those who are at war. How blessed we are to live in a peaceful community, Hall said. Its a great opportunity for us to reflect on others who do not have that opportunity.
Hands raised, participants formed a circle in the parking lot and repeated May peace prevail on Earth eight times for the eight languages while children released eight doves into the blue sky.
Covenant Community Connection sponsors yearly student contests in art and essays as part of Lets Get Connected Day. This years theme was May Peace Prevail on Earth.
The winners in each category were:
Senior High Art: Eric Biggs, Ainsley Rae Alessanoriui, Pamela Perez, Rachel Marie Barbee and Jenae Turner.
Senior High Essay: Joshua Richardson and Kimberly Strickland.
Middle School Essay: Josh DeLaney, Chase Hathcock.
Older Elementary: Cheyenne Plummer, Kai McGowan, Joshua Billingslea.
By Lee Ann Garrett