CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Peace posters made by students at Hongwanji Mission School were judged yesterday. This is the winning poster by middle school students.
Capitol set to host inaugural Peace Day celebration
Hawaii becomes the first state in the nation to celebrate Peace Day tomorrow by singing, lighting candles, releasing more than 100 birds and tackling heated topics such as Hawaiian sovereignty, the role of the military in the islands and possibly the Superferry.
More than 200 people are expected at the state Capitol for four hours of inaugural events, starting at 3:30 p.m. with a forum by the Matsunaga Institute for Peace and closing with a scheduled silent prayer across the state. Even a "Peace Blend Coffee" will be available.
Signs that tomorrow will be a day for harmony and tranquility will be apparent early on for people passing by the Hongwanji Mission School, where some 300 student-made peace pinwheels will be hung on a chain-link fence off Pali Highway at 7:30 a.m.
The Legislature passed a bill this spring establishing Peace Day at the request of the Hawaii Federation of Junior Young Buddhist Association. The date coincides with the United Nation's International Day of Peace, which is commemorated in more than 200 countries.
Lawmakers also approved a separate measure instructing the Matsunaga Institute to study the possibility of designating Hawaii as the "Geneva of the Pacific."
Through donations the institute is sponsoring tomorrow's forum, "What Can Hawaii Bring to Peacemaking?" to debate the independence movement of native Hawaiians, conflicts and challenges posed by the military's presence in the state as well as community projects to achieve prosperity within families.
"The panel is going to start the conversation by discussing some examples of peacemaking while also exploring some of the controversial issues that continue to divide our community," said Karen Cross, program manager for the institute.
Moderating the talk will be state Sen. Gary Hooser (D, Kauai-Niihau), who might entertain discussion about the stalled Hawaii Superferry service.
"It may come up, and we are really hoping that the audience will have some good things to draw out," Cross said. "We are really trying to offer something of substance."
During the festivities, which will include a speech by Gov. Linda Lingle and hula performances, officials will announce winners of a peace-theme competition for essay writing and art. Nearly 300 entries from the state have been submitted from contestants ranging from elementary students to an 80-year-old person, said Jeannie Lum, associate professor at the institute at the University of Hawaii.
Organizers, who will set up 200 chairs, are hoping for a big turnout even though the event is during peak rush-hour traffic.
"With the feedback we've gotten, we are fearful that people might not have a place to sit," Lum said.
Peace Day events
» Students and teachers from the Hongwanji Mission School will hold a short service at 9 a.m. at the Honpa Hongwanji Hawaii Betsuin temple. Students will perform songs and light candles for peace, and poster contest winners will be recognized.
» State Peace Day Ceremony at the state Capitol from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. Participants include Gov. Linda Lingle, state Rep. Jon Karamatsu and state Sens. Carol Fukunaga and Gary Hooser.
» Concert for Peace at 7 p.m. at Moiliili Hongwanji Mission, 902 University Ave. Music and dance from Cambodia, India, Okinawa, Japan, Hawaii and Europe will be presented by the Buddhist Women's Association and the Junior Young Buddhists Association.
» Service of Peace at 7:15 p.m. at St. Clement's Episcopal Church, 1515 Wilder Ave.
» Peace Day Festival at the University of Hawaii at Hilo from 5 to 9:45 p.m. More than 20 organizations will showcase how they support peace. Speakers include Billy Kenoi, executive assistant to Mayor Harry Kim, County Council Chairman Pete Hoffmann, Councilman Angel Pilago and Kumu Keala Ching. The event will end with music by the K-pana Boyz.