|Honoring a Legacy of Peace at the United Nations
The Universal Peace Federation hosted a ‘Legacy of Peace’ program at the United Nations, on Thursday March 18th, to honor the lives of His Excellency Hédi Annabi, the UN Chief of Mission recently killed with 100 other UN personnel in the Haiti earthquake, and seven other prominent individuals associated with UPF who recently passed and whose lives were dedicated to peace.
UPF President Thomas Walsh served as the MC for the simple but dignified ceremony. The names of each person were called out one by one, and a representative stepped forward to lay a bouquet of lilies and roses—representing the love and respect of both women and men—in front of a large photograph and ceremonial candle. Highlights of each person’s life and contribution to peace were displayed on large video screens as reflective music played softly, and then the audience of around 175 stood for a minute of silence.
Ambassador Jorge Urbina, Permanent Representative of the Costa Rica to the United Nations, spoke movingly on the dedication of his fallen UN colleagues, and also remembered another of the honorees, former Costa Rican President Rodrigo Carazo Odio, who also served as a UPF Ambassador for Peace. “Rodrigo Carazo was both my personal friend and a great servant of our nation,” said Urbina. “I know he would have been very proud to have been here this evening in the presence of so many dedicated men and women.”
Noel Brown, President of the Friends of the United Nations, and Rev. Walter Fauntroy, the civil rights activist who worked closely with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., gave thanks and offered a prayer for those who “loved their mission more than themselves” and gave everything for the sake of peace.
Mr. Alexander P. Haig spoke on the close bond between his father, the late General Alexander Haig, Jr. and the UPF Founder Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon, whose inspiration it originally was to hold the legacy of peace celebration. In 1950, during the Korean War, Haig was an Army captain in the US and UN forces that essentially saved Rev. Moon’s life when they liberated the notorious forced labor prison in Hungnam, where he was due to be executed by North Korean communists.
Later, General Haig served as the US Secretary of State in the Reagan administration and was also the Supreme Allied Commander (Europe) of NATO in the late 1970s. Over the years in Washington, he and Rev. Moon became close. “Throughout his career, my father spoke warmly of Rev. Moon’s commitment to faith, family and freedom,” said Alex Haig. “My family has been deeply moved by his outpouring of love and concern at my father’s passing.”
In a musical appreciation, Ben Lorentzen and Chris Alan Derflinger of the Manhattan-based Lovin’ life Ministries performed moving renditions of the Elvis Presley classic If I can Dream and Simon and Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water to the stunning backdrop of the East River flowing behind the UN Headquarters, bathed in the golden evening sun.
Others commemorated at the service included Nobel Peace Prize winner Kim Dae Jung of South Korea, and former Prime Minister of Iceland, Steingrímur Hermannsson, whose hosting of the 1986 Reykjavik summit between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev signaled the thawing of relationships that would soon end of the Cold War. Also recognized were former Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid “Gus Dur” of Indonesia, Muslim scholar Sheikh Hassan Cisse of Senegal, and Laxmi Mall Singvi, the former Indian High Commissioner to London.
Dr. Douglas Joo, President of the Washington Times Foundation, offered a personal reflection on the meaning of the Festival of Ascension and Unity as one of the three great landmarks in every person’s life. “Birth and marriage are always joyful events,” he said, “but regrettably funerals have tended to focus on sorrow and separation rather than celebrating a ‘second birth’ into the eternal world of spirit. Today we start a new and joyful tradition as we honor these most valuable lives.”
Following dinner, Rev. In Jin Moon, Senior Pastor of Lovin’ Life Ministries, introduced her parents, Rev. and Mrs. Sun Myung Moon. “I believe that nothing in life is just a coincidence,” she said, “and I hope all of us who find ourselves here this evening, especially the young people, will take a moment as we listen to my father’s message to consider what legacy of peace we can leave for future generations.”
“I am a controversial figure,” the ninety-year old Rev. Moon said as he began his keynote address, “and I am well aware that on occasion some people in the United Nations have not understood my work. Yet I have tried to live my whole life with one goal in mind,” he said, “to serve God and humanity.”
“I had to come here tonight to honor my dear friend General Alexander Haig one last time, and to say a prayer of blessing for his family,” said Rev. Moon. “As I reflect on the lives of all these men and women of peace, I realize that the time is coming closer when I too will make the transition to the next world.
I have therefore come here this evening to declare that, with God, peace on this earth can come quickly, even in the next three years. I implore all of you to join us in that work, so that we can change this world to become one family under God. The United Nations must not give up on its founding purpose to create a world of peace.”
Contributed by Dr. Michael Balcomb, Communications Director for the Universal Peace Federation (UPF).
Dr. Thomas Walsh served as MC
Ambassador Jorge Urbina, Costa Rica
Dr. Noel Brown, Friends of the United Nations
Mr. Alexander P. Haig, son of General Haig
Rev. In Jin Moon introduces her parents
Rev. Sun Myung Moon urging all to take up the unfinished work of peace