Peace Parks of the World
Building a Park in the Name of Peace
To me, the word "peace" means lack of war; to coexist with our neighbors in such a manner that does not involve harm from one to another; to respect the dignity of those with whom you may disagree. I do not necessarily think it means fighting with others who do not share your political beliefs, even if your beliefs represent a desire for a peaceful outcome. To that end, there are quite a few parks and memorials dedicated to the memory of "those who died" in some horrific way, most often involving anything but a peaceful act. I do think these places are important and can be "peaceful" in that we can use them as a place to contemplate and think peaceful thoughts. It is also important to the public and for generations to come that we have memorials to these times and acts, lest we ever go down that road again. I hear often that "history repeats itself." I hope we who visit these sacred places are enough to remember and know that there are some things that should never be repeated.
I have recently discovered, to my delight, a lovely exception to the peace-after-war style memorial: The "Peace Park" of Chamizal - Chamizal National Memorial. This is the only park I have heard of which was founded specifically to commemorate a peaceful solution. The 100 year boundary dispute between the United States and Mexico was resolved without bloodshed or battle, and this peaceful outcome is the very thing celebrated here. There is no sadness for loss of life, no hurtful memories, no feelings of shame or guilt, and no healing to be had. It simply is….peaceful.
The Ever Winding Rio Grande
It all started because a river ran through it.
The border between the two countries when all this began was (and still is) the Rio Grande. The problem started when, due to floods and erosion, she started meandering all over the place, eventually carving a new route for herself which put the area known as Chamizal in the United States, when it had previously been part of Mexico. It was only a square mile, and was largely ignored by the two governments, but this created more problems of drug trafficking and illegal border crossing through this "no man's land". Meanwhile, people did settle there, so now there was the issue of uprooting all these families on top of everything else. Finally, when both sides needed a boost in the turbulent political climate of the early 1960's, everybody got together and hammered out the deal, "without a single shot fired", as President Lyndon Johnson said in his dedication speech for the memorial.
Both areas were dedicated as parks. The Chamizal National Memorial is now a center "celebrating the culture of the borderland" and hosting all kinds of events for the El Paso community, and the Parque El Chamizal (the larger of the two) is more of a family recreation area.
for the creation and establishment of a 'peace park' in order to celebrate goodwill, understanding, diplomacy, and cooperation between the United States of America and the United States of Mexico— The Chamizal Convention of 1963
A better border
The river used to wind all over the map, but part of the treaty was to shore it up so that the banks (and borders) were more permanent.
Among individuals, as among nations, respect for the rights of others is peace.— President Benito Juárez
Mural at Chamizal
Obama at Chamizal: "Immigrants have made America great"
Peace Park Poll
Do you think it's a good idea to build a park in the name of Peace?
In the name of Peace Parks
What it Stands For
Nearest town or city
Chamizal National Memorial
resolution without war
El Paso, TX
Southern African Peace Parks
network of protected areas
John Lennon "Imagine Peace"
Central Park, NYC
Buddhist Meditation Gardens
University for Peace
San Jose, Costa Rica
University of MO
Peace Valley Park
Bucks County, PA
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park
To Honor Victims
Peace Park, Seattle
Dr. Floyd Schmoe
Dr. Schmoe built this small park in Seattle with peace prize money he was awarded. He was in his 90's at the time. He began his humanitarian career after World War II when he took some friends to Japan to help rebuild after the Hiroshima bomb. This little statue is on loan to the park from the Hiroshima memorial in Japan. It's called "Sadako and the Thousand Cranes" and is modeled after the little girl Sadako Sasaki, survivor of bombing as a two year old child (she later died of radiation poisoning at age 12). Sadako's wish was to make a thousand paper cranes before she died, believing the ancient Japanese story that promises that anyone who folds a"Thousand origami cranes" will be granted a wish.
Award winning nonfiction tells Sadako's story
At 12, she has leukemia, the "atom bomb disease," because she was a victim of the bomb on Hiroshima at age 2. Sadako faces her future with spirit and bravery
Chamizal National Memorial
The Chamizal Timeline
- 1848: Rio Grande chosen as the boundary for the eastern portiion between U.S. and Mexico
- 1860-1864: torrential flooding alsters the course of the river.
- 1899: Cordova Island is created to control further flooding
- Early 1900's: Recurring floods move the river further south. Chamizal is now on U.S. side of the border.
- 1909: For meeting between Presidents Taft & Diaz at Chamizal, the area was considered neutral ground.
- 1910: International arbitration over the boundary dispute is initiated, but they come to no agreement.
- U.S. President John F. Kennedy and Mexico's President Adolf Mateos initate a new round of talks on the matter.
- 1963: Dispute settled with Chamizal Treaty.
source: The New Yorker - "A Border Crosses" by Paul Kramer. Sept 20, 2014