BY JESSICA NEWMAN
Mohandas Gandhi said, “If we are to teach real peace in this world, and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with the children.”
With an increasingly corporate-controlled government that seems to have little regard for the views and desires of the American people, it’s easy to feel helpless and voiceless. Dreams of a peaceful world quickly become mere illusions.
But there is hope for a more peaceful society, without war and destruction. And that hope lies in the children of today who will lead the U.S. and world of tomorrow.
It is in this vein that Gainesville Veterans for Peace organized the Third Annual Alachua and Marion Counties Schools Peace Poetry Contest.
After the success of last year’s contest, teachers and parents from Marion County asked that Vets for Peace extend the contest south. As a result, approximately 200 poems were submitted this year by students in the first through twelfth grades, half of which were from Marion County.
By fostering ideas of coexistence and cooperation in young people now, we not only hope to initiate a discussion about peace and how to achieve it within our own community, but also to inspire students to work toward a more peaceful world in every aspect of their adult lives.
A panel of English graduate students from the University of Florida, led by Dr. Sidney Wade, judged the poems based on creativity, use of language and age.
The winners will be published in the 2012 Peace Poetry Booklet and will also recite their piece at the Peace Poetry Reading at 2p.m. on Saturday, May 12, at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship on NW 34th Street. Winners will also receive prizes according to their age and place (first, second or third place in their age group).
The Peace Poetry Reading is free and open to the public. Music and entertainment will be incorporated, and light refreshments will be provided after the reading.