University of California, Santa Barbara
Daily Nexus (student newspaper)
Wednesday, January 10, 1990
Eternal Flame Ceremony to Rekindle and Recall Ideals
By Jennifer Ogar, Staff Writer
In what may become an annual celebration of peace at UCSB, a survivor of the 1945 bombing of Hiroshima will relight the Eternal Flame monument located near Ellison Hall today using a flame which originated in a 1959 peace gathering.
The ceremony, scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. will feature speakers including Chancellor Barbara Uehling and Hymon Johnson, assistant director of the Educational Opportunity Program.
The event is being jointly produced by the university, the Mesa School and the school's executive producer, Isla Vista peace activist David Crockett Williams. Crockett said the gathering will focus on "messages about global survival in a spiritual unity summit on nonviolence."
The Mesa School, established in 1985, is a non-profit organization whose purpose is to produce various projects and publications "to help change the course of history off of the path towards total destruction and onto the path towards paradise on Earth," according to a press release from the school.
"The idea of the ceremony is to bring the minds of the people into harmony and to make the (Eternal Flame) into a peace monument," Crockett said, adding that if all goes as planned, the second week of each January will be set aside for similar gatherings in the future.
The Eternal Flame monument was a gift from the class of 1969 and is dedicated to Martin Luther King Jr. and John and Robert Kennedy.
The flame that will be used to relight the monument originated in an August 6, 1959, gathering in Hiroshima, Japan to mark the fourteenth anniversary of the atomic bombing. In a candlelight vigil, participants in the original event put their candles together to begin an eternal flame which has been kept there ever since.
This flame was carried to the U.S. in 1982 for the United Nations Special Session on Disarmament, and is currently being kept in a Buddhist temple in Los Angeles.
Buddhist Monk Daisen Yamato, a scheduled speaker, said the flame is not only a symbol of peace but also one of healing power and can be a focal point "to purify the minds of the people and bring peace to the world."
Johnson echoed this desire for the contemplation of peace in the modern world. "We can redesign structures and change policies but we need to educate the full person; one has to be motivated from a belief within," he said.
"The ideas are old but they're not accepted unless it's convenient," Johnson said of the ceremony and its purpose. "They're basic themes but it seems like they need to be repeated over and over."
[Hymon Johnson is with the Sathya Sai Organization www.sathyasai.org]