An accidental encounter with a glass-enclosed monument while she was turning her car around in Wales on vacation has led to a tiny city in Oregon becoming only the 14th location in the world to install an eternal World Peace Flame.
Nestled deep in the Snowdonia Mountains, the monument contained a burning flame.
“It moved me so deeply,” Irene Kai told GNN.
She had stumbled upon one of the World Peace Flames. The caretaker in a nearby building told her the story:
The original Flame, at The Hague in the Netherlands, was created in July 1999 when seven living flames, lit by world peacemakers on five continents, were united as one, after being transported via military jets while still burning.
She learned there were 12 other World Peace Flames as far away as Australia. The only one in the United States burns at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, the assassination site of Dr. Martin Luther King.
Irene for 20 years has lived in Ashland, Oregon, a unique city of only 20,000 people with a magic that draws spiritually-inclined people to reside there—folks like Jean Houston, Gary Zukav, and Neale Donald Walsch. It also holds a deep history for the Native Peoples. Still active tribes nearby include a descendant of “The Chief of Peace”, Chief Joseph’s great, great, grandson.
“I was so inspired to bring the flame back to Ashland to honor the Natives,” she recalled of the serendipitous encounter in September 2015.
Upon her return, and two years ago on Peace Day, she co-founded the Ashland Culture of Peace Commission, and later the city declared itself an International City of Peace. She and Executive Director David Wick had one problem: Where would they put the flame? It costs a lot of money to build monuments.
At that very moment plans were underway to erect a pavilion that would facilitate “Outrageous Arts and Sustainability” on the Southern Oregon University campus. Two 24-foot cedar carvings by a local Native American, Russell Beebe, called teaching poles, would be the site’s focal point.
When Irene and David first saw drawings for the site, Irene immediately said, “That’s the monument!” When they approached Barry and Kathryn Thalden, the local philanthropists who were funding the pavilion, the peace activists didn’t even get to speak before Barry asked, “Do you want to put your peace flame in our tower?”
“We just couldn’t believe it,” Irene recalled. “It was amazing.”
On International Peace Day, September 21, the new World Peace Flame, was lit using a torch employed at the original flame site in the Netherlands, delivered by a delegation from The World Flame Foundation. An official two-foot high oil lamp that burns on biofuel will be tended by 12 Middle School students in Ashland to keep the glow burning bright.
The Ashland monument will forever mark this energetic location as an important City of Peace for travelers from around the world.
After the eternal flame was lit, hundreds of people gathered heard speeches by local political dignitaries and Peace Foundation officials. The event was live streamed and you can view some of the video on YouTube here.
Share this magical story with the hashtag #DoItForPeace, as we join Ashland and people everywhere to tally one billion acts for peace in 10 days!