Planted in the open area in front of the Auburn Library, the “Peace Pole” looks like the Washington Monument in miniature.
But there’s nothing miniature about what this monument has to say on all four sides in eight languages, including Twulshootseed, the native language of the Muckleshoot Tribe: “May Peace Prevail on Earth.”
Thanks to the Auburn Rotary Club, whose members built it.
On July 24, Rotary Club of Auburn’s immediate Past President Sunil Khanal and Auburn Mayor Nancy Backus unveiled the monument before Rotarians, representatives of the Japanese American community, the Sons of Italy, the Filipino American Community, the Ukrainian American community and Auburn residents.
Masahisa Goi created the first peace pole in 1955 in the wake of the destruction wrought by war, including the atomic bombs the United States dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.
Today, thanks to Rotary International, which took up Goi’s cause in the 1950s and ran with it, Auburn is now home to one of an estimated trove of 250,000 like monuments of peace, scattered across the landscape of every nation on Earth, according to a recent article from Rotary District 4020, whose jurisdiction encompasses the Auburn club.
The Peace Pole may be international in scope, but this particular monument was a local project, made right here, with good old Auburn and Rotarian know-how, according to Auburn Rotarian Robert Hardy, who built it.
“When Rotary took it under their wing, Peace Poles started popping up all over the place, and I had just read an article about it, and started to build one with leftover pieces of metal,” said Hardy, who is employed by Miller Steel Fabrication on the west side of Auburn.
Hardy and an electrical engineer designed the pole with back lighting. Shawn Murphy with American Powder Coating did the finishing, Bruce and Cheryl Amundsen of Definitive Solutions Technology did the water-jet-cutting and letter design, and Daryl Faber, director of Auburn Arts. Parks and Recreation, gathered all the languages to put on the pole and helped coordinate the overall project with the city of Auburn.
“September is Peace Month for Rotary International, and all the different cities or clubs are going to be putting the Peace Poles they’ve placed around in our flyer. We were a month ahead of them,” Hardy explained.
“It’s pretty cool, especially at night. I put blue LED’s in it, and it just shines. It’s pretty amazing. Most of these poles are made of 4×4 pieces of wood, and people just paint on them. No one’s ever gone to this extreme in putting one together,” Hardy said.