“Peace is not merely a distant goal we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal.” - Martin Luther King, Jr.
The International Day of Peace, also known as Peace Day, is a holiday on September 21st where people around the world are encouraged to set aside their differences and build peace on personal, local, national, and global levels. It was created in 1981 when Resolution 36/37 was accepted by the unanimous vote of the United Nations General Assembly. The purpose of the International Day of Peace was to not only serve as a special day for all people to promote peace by word and deed, but to stand as a reminder to the United Nations of their commitment to foster world peace.
The first official International Day of Peace took place on the first day of the General Assembly in September 1982. It wasn’t until 2001 that the UN General Assembly designated September 21st to serve as the permanent date for Peace Day. The UN also decided in 2001 that the International Day of Peace would be a day to officially promote non-violence and ceasefire.
Over the years, the International Day of Peace has had different themes. For example, 2011 had the theme “Peace and Democracy: Make Your Voice Heard,” and 2012 was “Sustainable Peace for a Sustainable Future.” The theme for 2013 is “Education for Peace.” The United Nations strongly believe that education is crucial for building peaceful societies.
There are many official events that are planned each year to celebrate Peace Day. To mark the beginning of the holiday, the Peace Bell is rung at the United Nations Headquarters. There’s an International Day of Peace Broadcast that people can watch online (http://cultureofpeace.org/events-1/broadcast) both on the 21st and in the days leading up to it. Another well-known event is the Wave of Peace, or the moment of silence at 12:00 p.m. in each time zone. It is celebrated by thousands of people all over the world.
Each of us can find our own creative ways to celebrate Peace Day as well. Artists could create a work of art. Intellectuals could read something interesting and then write about it. Those who are athletic could go hiking. Spiritually-minded people could meditate, do yoga, or pray. Any of us could light candles and think about the people we care about.
No matter how we choose to observe the holiday, Peace Day is a great time to think about the world around us, and how we can make it a little brighter.