United States 23 August: New York
Peace Run Global Finale, Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza
Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run Executive Director, Salil Wilson, opened the official Peace Run Global Finale, highlighting the North American Peace Run by welcoming the Ambassadors and delegates from the United Nations along with Peace Run representatives who came together from all around the world to celebrate the inherent yearning for peace we all share.
Salil welcomed Ranjana Ghose, President of the Sri Chinmoy Centre. Ranjana stated that as a United Nations NGO, the Centre endeavours to keep the idealism of peace alive to inspire humanity. She said that Sri Chinmoy held this project very dear to his heart because he was also an athlete and that from the beginnings in 1987, the Peace Run project was so very thrilling to him.
Tavishi Matthews, from Australia, ran the entire 4 month North American journey. She carried the torch to the stage to begin the individual country representative announcements by stating her country name, Australia.
Salil welcomed special guest United Nations representative, Mr. Maher Nasser, Director of Outreach Division from the UN Department of Public Information.
Speaking of the Peace Run, Mr. Nasser said that, "Peace is at the fore of what the United Nations is all about…so any organization, any individual, any group, who works for peace is working for the United Nations."
He continued, "...sports is sometimes seen as something different, but running is of course a sport that brings people together …and running for peace is a special noble cause...the United Nations Secretary-General has a special adviser on sports for development and peace..."
Mr. Nasser also spoke about the ancient Olympic peace truce, the Sustainable Development Goals, and his own newly found passion for marathon running!
European Peace Run Director, Devashishu Torpy, spoke of some of his fond memories from being with Sri Chinmoy for the beginnings of the Peace Run in 1987.
Devashishu introduced today's prestigious Torch-Bearer recipient, long time Peace Run supporter, and dear friend of Sri Chinmoy, Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury. He is a former Under-Secretary-General and High Representative of the United Nations and a champion of The Culture of Peace.
Ambassador Chowdhury has dedicated his life to serving humanity in many ways. He shares many of the same ideals as Sri Chinmoy and the Peace Run, working at a grass roots level for his Motherland of Bangladesh, the Rights of Women and Children around the world, and The Culture of Peace.
Ambassador Chowdhury spoke beautifully, saying, "There is no end to my connections or relationship or closeness with Sri Chinmoy. He used to call me his brother-friend and I am very deeply honoured for that. Three things stand out very importantly in his work which I admire from the bottom of my heart."
1. His belief that the essential core element of the United Nations should be spirituality.
2. That he highlighted the core concept of the oneness of humanity.
3. That the connection between inner peace and outer peace is the core basis of The Culture of Peace, and his conviction that peace should become a part of our daily existence.
Ambassador Chowdhury also read an excerpt from Sri Chinmoy’s book, The Garland of Nation Souls, entitled “The Outer Peace and the Inner Peace”. The final passage of the essay follows,
“…we can unfalteringly and unmistakably claim that loving and fulfilling peace is our birthright.”
H.E. Mr. Masud Bin Momen, Permanent Representative of Bangladesh, spoke next. He said he was, "very proud because Sri Chinmoy was also born in Bangladesh, and today we also honoured another very illustrious predecessor of mine, Ambassador Chowdhury. I think that sports, spirituality and peace all go together. We hope for continued success of the Peace Run, and hopefully in the future Bangladeshi runners will also participate in the Peace Run."
H.E. Mr. Nirmal Raj Kafle, Deputy Permanent Representative of Nepal, offered his sincere appreciation and congratulations to all the runners, including the one from Nepal!
Mrs. Ljilja Grgić-Stojanović, Second Secretary from the Bosnia & Herzegovina Mission spoke on behalf of H.E. Mr. Miloš Vukašinović, Permanent Representative of Bosnia & Herzegovina, who had to leave early.
She said, "It is really a huge encouragement for me personally and for many thousands of young people in their endeavors to fight for peace in the world."
Mrs. Dina Fejzić Izmirlija, Second Secretary of the Bosnia & Herzegovina Mission, wished all participants good luck and offered her heartfelt thanks.
Original Peace Run Executive Director, Shambhu Vineburg, offered the closing remarks, noting that the Peace Run has visited more than 150 countries since 1987, and saying that we try to present the message of peace in a soulful way, working with young people all over the world.
Shambhu said that those of us who have been out on the road running for peace "...know that peace is more than a good choice, peace is the right choice…these steps are the building blocks upon which others will step into a more peaceful world.”
We finished by all singing a song we sing with children all over the globe, the World Harmony Run song by Sri Chinmoy.
Suhasini from Bali, Indonesia, shares the torch with a young child. For Peace Runners and the children we meet all over the world this is always a beautiful experience of hope and happiness.
Our Nepalese runner, Sweta Pradhan, was delighted to meet with the representatives from Nepal, H.E. Mr. Nirmal Raj Kafle, Deputy Permanent Representative; Ms. Subekshya Poudel, Assistant to the Permanent Representative; Mr. Tikaram Upadhyay, Third Secretary and Ms. Sabita Nakarmi, Second Secretary.
American Peace Runner, Arpan DeAngelo, has taken part in nearly every Peace Run since 1987 and still exudes boundless enthusiasm and love for the Peace Run.
Sri Chinmoy is pictured here with Narada Michael Walden and Clarence Clemmons at the very first Peace Run Ceremony in 1987.