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On January 12, Guam launched its first annual Latte Peace Festival at Tamuning Park in the village of Tamuning. The festival--named after the latte stone, a symbol of strength in the island's native Chamorro culture--was held to celebrate peace, promote cultural exchange between neighboring islands and to commemorate Louise Rivera's inauguration as the new Tamuning-Tumon-Harmon mayor.
The event also coincided with the 38th anniversary of SGI's founding on the island (on January 26, 1975). It was cosponsored by SGI-USA, the International Committee of Artists for Peace (ICAP), the Mayor's Council of Guam and other community partners.
The festival was open to the public and featured cultural displays, entertainment--including dance groups representing Polynesian, Micronesian and Marianas islands--food vendors and informational booths on peace and nonviolence. Local SGI members participated in the day's events, together with SGI-USA General Director Danny Nagashima.
During the morning program, Guam Governor Eddie Baza Calvo welcomed the newly appointed Tamuning-Tumon-Harmon Municipal Planning Council and recognized the SGI's efforts to promote peace and tolerance, declaring January 2013 as "Guam Peace Month." Vice Speaker of the 32nd Guam Legislature Benjamin J.F. Cruz presented a resolution commending SGI President Ikeda and his wife for serving as "inspiring examples of how one person's committed efforts can transform the lives of millions of people around the world."
African American Heritage Association President Jermaine Smith was keynote speaker for the event, and he spoke of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s pioneering efforts for peace and how Dr. King had once said that "an individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity."
As part of the opening celebrations, three large latte stones were unveiled and then lit with torches. Latte stones, which the forebears of the indigenous Chamorro people carved from coral limestone, served as a foundation for homes and honored ancestors.
Following the lighting ceremony, SGI members laid a wreath and released white doves in front of a peace monument that was erected in Tamuning Park in 2010 to commemorate the SGI's founding.
[Adapted from an article in the February 8, 2013, issue of World Tribune, SGI-USA; photos courtesy of SGI-USA]
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