Back to listJan 30, 2005

SGI-USA Celebrates SGI's 30th Anniversary with an Aloha Gala in Hawaii

SGI-USA Hawaii members attend "Aloha Peace Weekend" celebrations

SGI-USA celebrated SGI's 30th anniversary with a national general meeting and culture festival at the Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA, on January 22. Some 5,000, including guests from the fields of education, human rights, performing arts, literary circles and the United Nations. SGI President Daisaku Ikeda sent a message, calling the United States a model for humanity--a land of the free where people of diverse cultures coexist in peace. Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle sent a proclamation designating January 21-23, 2005 as "Aloha Peace Weekend" in commemoration of the SGI's 30th anniversary and in honor of SGI President Daisaku Ikeda and Mrs. Kaneko Ikeda's longstanding efforts to foster peace through dialogue with world leaders. Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann and others also sent congratulatory messages.

The SGI-USA's "Aloha Peace Weekend" commemorated the establishment of the International Buddhist League, the SGI's precursor, and Mr. Ikeda's inauguration as president, on the island of Guam on January 26, 1975, with representatives from 51 countries. Hawaii was the first stop on Mr. Ikeda's travels for peace that began in October 1960, five months following his inauguration as Soka Gakkai's third president in May of the same year.

SGI-USA representatives hold Honolulu City Council members' proclamation presented to Mr. and Mrs. Ikeda
Marsha Joyner, past president of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Coalition, Hawaii, (left); Joanne Tachibana, president, United Nations Association-USA Hawaii Division (2nd from left); Kenneth Y. Nakamatsu, Deputy Honolulu Mayor (2nd from right); SGI-USA Women's Division Leader Linda Johnson (right)

Honolulu Council member Donovan M. Dela Cruz presented a certificate praising the Ikedas for their contributions to world peace and Mr. Ikeda's leadership of the SGI and its membership that has expanded to 190 countries and regions in every sphere of society. A 1,000 member youth chorus sang an original song, "Forever SGI" as an expression of their resolve to work for peace together with President Ikeda. Also shown was a video introducing the history of the SGI in Hawaii, beginning with Mr. Ikeda's first step on Haiwaii in October 1960 and including the human dramas and activities spearheaded by the youth.

Erin Boll (second from left) shares a "relay experience" with six friends who she introduced to to SGI-USA and Nichiren Buddhism in six months

Gene O'Connell, a district women's leader in her local organization in San Francisco, California, and CEO of San Franciso General Hospital (SFGH), shared her experience of overcoming domestic violence and being a welfare recipient to complete a nursing certificate program after being introduced to the SGI and Nichiren Buddhism in 1974. After working at the University of California Medical Center in a variety of roles for eight years, she was asked by her superiors to go to SFGH to set up nursing educational programs. There, she earned the trust of her superiors and was urged to apply for a bachelor's, then a master's program in nursing, both of which she graduated with honors. Gene was then became director of the Department of Education, Training and Research, then asked to take on an additional role of director of the Emergency Department, one year later. She challenged her responsibilities as a mother of two children and the director of two programs, with her practice of Nichiren Buddhism. She advanced to the position of director of nursing, then chief operations officer, and finally the CEO, mentored by the previous CEO, whose trust she had finally gained. In 2004, the SFGH nursing department honored her by creating an award in her name: the O'Connell Leadership Award, given to nursing leaders who exemplify compassion and caring for patients. In 2003 and 2004, Gene O'Connell was also named one of the hundred most influential women in business by the Bay Area Business Times.

Actor Patrick Duffy, best know for his TV role on "Dallas," and 2005 Miss Hawaii Jennifer Fairbank cohosted the cultural show that followed. Performers included flutist Nestor Torres, guitarist Larry Coryell, Spanish dancer Angela del Moral, the Honolulu Boys and Girls Chorus. SGI-USA General Director Daniel Nagashima gave a speech and introduced newly joined SGI-USA Hawaii members. The event closed with everyone singing "I Have a Dream" for the finale.

A young hula dancer
Hip Hop dancers from Hawaii and the Mainland
Kamehameha "warriors" perform a traditional Hawaiian dance
West African and Caribbean rhythms reverberate from the stage

Also during "Aloha Peace Weekend," "Building a Culture of Peace for the Children of the World," an exhibition on protecting children's rights, opened on January 21 at the Honolulu City Hall. On January 23, SGI-USA Hawaii sponsored the Aloha Peace Forum, a free public event celebrating the 60th anniversary of the United Nations and SGI's 30th anniversary at the SGI-USA Hawaii Culture Center on Pali Highway. Ved Nanda, law professor and director of the International Legal Studies Program at the University of Denver, gave the keynote address.