The event commenced at 6 p.m. on the steps of City Hall with a brief ceremony led by the City of Clearwater’s Cultural Affairs Manager, Margo Walbolt, the Clearwater Fire Department’s Color Guard, Lauran Irion who sang “America the Beautiful” and a welcome address by Mayor Hibbard.
The Dunedin Highland Middle School Highlander Bands provided a drum and bagpipe procession to the follow-up concert held directly across the street at the Peace Memorial Presbyterian Church.
The concert began with a performance by the Tampa Bay Golden Strings Youth Orchestra. Followed by singer/musicians Jill Jackson, John Seda and Rudy Richardson leading the Peace Community Choir and audience in sing-a-longs to the songs “Let There Be Peace on Earth” by Sy Miller, “Give Peace a Chance” by Lennon - McCartney and the 2008 Anthem of Hope “Let it Be” by The Beatles.
The children from Life Force Cultural Academy delighted the audience with a beautiful dance ensemble. Venus Jones enlightened us with her “Spoken Word” performance and the Hellas Dancers of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church inspired and energized all.
The performing artists, coordinators, sponsors and audience came from diverse backgrounds to participate in this remembrance concert that put forth the message of Unity and Peace.
In addition to being moved by the gathering of such a diverse group of people from the community who came together for a common purpose, my hope for peace was rekindled by the message Robert A. Freedman, CEO and President of Ruth Eckerd Hall imparted in his speech:
“Being Jewish, a very big part of our lives has always been to remember the Holocaust. You can never really understand, but you can remember. One has to keep that memory alive and the knowledge of destruction of life brought on by Hitler to six million Jews and perhaps even five million other people – who were not the “right kind of people” – Gypsies, Ethnic Poles, Slavic people, the disabled, homosexuals and political and religious dissidents.
“Holocaust museums, which have become museums of tolerance, exist to help us remember, to never forget. Thousands each year visit concentration camp remnants to try to grasp the enormity of the genocide. And, these museums and camps remind us that we have to be ever diligent to genocide no matter where it happens. Whether it is Darfur, Rwanda, Armenia or anyplace in the world that these tragic actions occur – WE MUST REMEMBER!
“If we don’t, we are perhaps doomed to allow it to happen again and to lose our vigilance about places in the world today that show a lack of tolerance.
“What is it that motivates one human being to make a decision to kill another human being? And, in the case of 9/11, an act that destroys lives and hopes of thousands in one act of cowardice. I cannot say I know the answer to that question. But I do know that the arts, the performing arts, can play a pivotal role in bringing understanding among different peoples of different cultures. The arts tell us that instead of hating something that is different from ourselves, we can celebrate, revel in and enjoy incredible diversity.
“Over the course of my career as an arts presenter, one of the great joys has been to bring to audiences, artists from all over the world into your particular community. Such experiences help break down barriers, stereotypes and bring understanding that would be impossible without such an arts experience.”…
“The great novelist Kurt Vonnegut once said that music helped him through tragic times and also talked of what kind of epitaph he would like and concluded it should say: The only proof he needed for the existence of God was music. A colleague of mine once said that the ‘arts are an investment in human potential.’ I would add to that - the arts are an investment in human understanding.”
The City, the Clearwater Arts Foundation and Clearwater Sister Cities Inc. jointly sponsored this event. The Peace Memorial Presbyterian Church opened its doors in its contribution to bringing culture and peace to the community.
- Tampa Bay Informer
The Good News Newspaper