Articles From the May 1995 Unification News


"Sisters of Peace" - Building a Bridge of Peace for the World

by Annie Gagne-Clifton, NJ

"No political action up until now had ended world hunger. But through setting up a network of loving mothers we could bypass the political elements that create war or separation of our two nations. America and Japan alone have tremendous resources, but our greatest and most underdeveloped is the power of the women of our two countries working together." Betsy Orman spoke these words in a program held on May 6th in New York City on the topic "Sisters of Peace": Building a Bridge of Peace for the World. Mrs. Orman, the North Dakota Chairwoman of the Women's Federation for World Peace (WFWP), was one of the speakers who shared their experiences of the Sisterhood ceremonies held in Washington, D.C.

WFWP-USA and USA-Japanese sponsored this program at the Manhattan Center as a follow-up to the nine Sisterhood ceremonies that have already taken place. The program was also to introduce these ceremonies to women who have not yet attended. The New York and New Jersey chapters of WFWP worked very hard in order to make this program a success.

Mrs. Debby Gullery, the New York metro area WFWP Chairwoman, welcomed everyone and proceeded to emcee the event. A video presentation of the Sisterhood ceremonies was shown. The part in which the Japanese and Western women crossed the bridge and greeted and hugged each other was so moving that many women in the audience watching the video had tears in their eyes.

After the video ended, 7 women who had attended the Washington ceremonies gave their reflections of the event. Mrs. Yoko Kobayashi, Vice President of WFWP-USA, was the first to share. She said that, having lived in the US for 22 years, she was neither Japanese nor American. Through these Sisterhood ceremonies, she determined to be a bridge of love to support the Western and Japanese women who have crossed that bridge. She said that she prays "many more Japanese and American women will cross the bridge of love and be able to stand up strong as contributors in creating a peaceful world through a solid and beautiful friendship between two nations and a bond of trust and friendship as sisters."

All the other speakers also gave brief, but inspiring and heartfelt, words about their experiences in attending past Sisterhood ceremonies. They are: Mrs. Marlene Vegas-Besdansky of the Costa Rican Consulate; Mrs. Nizizwe Mvemve from the South African Mission to the UN; Dr. Inez Nathan Thompson, Grey Panther/National Political Congress of Woman; Eva and Dorothy Cieniewicz, Christian Coalition/Concerned Women for America; and Mrs. Betsy Orman.

After the invocation given by Mrs. Hope Igarashi, the WFWP Chairwoman for the New Jersey region, a delightful Japanese buffet was then served. While everyone was enjoying the sushi, shrimp tempura, chicken and pastry, live koto music was being played on the stage by Mrs. Yumiko Nakamura, giving the atmosphere a Japanese flavor as well.

After the buffet, a beautiful song was sung by Mrs. Sheila Vaughn. Mrs. Deirdra Picou, Chief of Staff of the Department of Business Services, then read a greeting on behalf of Mayor Giuliani. She stressed peace and working with each other for a better world.

The keynote address was given by Dr. Prima Mathai-Davis, the National Executive Director of the YWCA. She gave a moving talk in which she began by saying that the YWCA has a connection with Japan in that there are YWCAs there. Also, she said that during World War II, the YWCA did not discriminate against the Japanese in America, but was one of the national organizations that worked with them and supported them. Dr. Mathai-Davis also said that violence in all forms affects everyone and is one thing that binds women and girls of the world together. She said that the YWCA will observe one week in October on the theme of nonviolence. She encouraged everyone to observe this week with them.

After another song sung with such heart by Mrs. ___, Mrs. Nora Spurgin, President of the WFWP in the US, gave her remarks. She shared a story about a French woman who, after having lived through World War II, hated the Germans so much she could not bear to be in a conference on peace with them soon after the war ended. After staying in her hotel room for two days, she finally realized that peace could never come about unless she learned to forgive. So, she joined the conference and, when she had a turn to talk, she asked the Germans in the conference to forgive her for hating them so much. She and her husband made it their life goal to seek peace and reconciliation. Mrs. Spurgin asked us to also strive for this peace and reconciliation.

The program concluded with some more entertainment. About 30 Japanese women, brightly dressed in kimonos, performed a Japanese dance called "Bon Odori." The dance began on the stage and ended with all of them dancing down the center aisle of the hall. It was a colorful and enjoyable display. Mrs. Lee and Mrs. Vaughn then sang a song, "Love Can Build a Bridge," and this officially ended the program.

This program was a wonderful way to connect once again with the emotional high I experienced in the Washington Sisterhood ceremony. It was also a wonderful way to introduce others to the miracles of love and friendship generated in these ceremonies. I know that some of the women who had not yet gone to Washington, D.C., were determined to go to the next Sisterhood ceremony after being moved by this program.


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