World Peace Through True Families
40 Million Couples Blessed Worldwide
Some went early to help with the preparations, some attended one or more of the many conferences, some went as nervous parents to witness their children receive the Blessing and some were there to be united with their eternal mates. In one capacity or another, the entire UTS community went to Washington DC in November to attend the Third World Culture and Sports Festival which concluded with a spectacular Blessing ceremony at RFK Stadium.
In mid November, two busses full of students left Barrytown for DC and for the next two weeks, the students went door-to-door throughout the city inviting the people of Washington to attend the Blessing on November 29th. Some staff members also went early to help with the preparations including multimedia director Yuichi Tanabe who put up posters and manned a sidewalk table advertising the big event. As the day approached, UTS faculty members arrived in DC to attend the various conferences. President Shimmyo, for example, attended the 21st ICUS on the theme "Science for the Benefit of Humanity" (see article in this issue) and Dr. David Carlson attended the IRFWP conference on "Movers and Shapers" where he was happy to hear the enthusiastic gratitude expressed to the Founder by renowned scholars from throughout the world.
On the eve of the main event busses from Albany, Barrytown, Kingston, Newburgh and Poughkeepsie joined the flood of vehicles heading for the Capital filled with members and their guests. They helped to swell the crowd to 40,000 at RFK Stadium the following day at an event which was announced, observed and celebrated throughout the world. Media interest was at a very high level thanks partly to the efforts of Howard Self (UTS class of '78) who was director of public relations for this event, and Chris Corcoran (Class of '86) who is the director of public relations for the FFUWP. Writing for the Washington Times, Larry Witham (Class of '78) wrote the following. "Vows of dedication - and re-dedication - to love and marriage echoed from the storied playing field of Robert F. Kennedy Stadium yesterday and resounded around the world from a "blessing" ceremony presided over by Reverend Sun Myung Moon, his wife and members of six other religious faiths. From their seats, 40,000 persons rededicating their marriages looked down on 1,300 newly betrothed couples in traditional white gowns and dark suits as clergy, statesmen and entertainers lauded their commitments. Rev. Moon and his wife, Hak Ja Han Moon, prayed that "by the authority of heaven and earth" the couples, including a reported 3.6 million participating via satellite transmission to other countries, become 'true ancestors of mankind from this point on." The mammoth task of preparing for this huge event was the responsibility of Reverend Chang Shik Yang (Class of '96), the regional director for Washington D.C..
Among the brides and grooms gathered on the field were Keijo Shimmyo, daughter of President and Mrs. Shimmyo, together with her spouse, and David Byrne, son of Dr. and Mrs. Shawn Byrne, who was blessed with the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Glenn Strait. Also present was Mike Armstrong (Class of '95) who had flown from Brazil to be joined together with his new wife. In fact, thousands of church members had flown in from all over the world, causing more than one person to comment that time and space ceased to exist at this event as church members bumped into old friends from all over the globe and from all stages of their life in the church.
The global significance of this Blessing was emphasized by the religious leaders who offered a blessing from their own religious traditions. They included Sri Swami Satchidinanda of India, a Hindu, and Minister Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam who told the newlyweds, "Marriage is the cornerstone of the family, and family is the cornerstone of the nation. If God is the cornerstone of your marriage, your marriage will never fail."
As darkness fell at the end of this historic day, a stunning fireworks display exploded
and flashed across the night sky sending a million bright sparks into the darkness just as
thousands of newly blessed individuals dispersed outward into the world.