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#1133 – Dick Bernard: A Presidential visit to Hiroshima. Now it’s up to us.

Monday, May 30th, 2016

The annual Memorial Day observance of Veterans for Peace Chapter 27 is today, 9:30-10:30, at the Vietnam Memorial on the Minnesota State Capitol Grounds, St. Paul. This is always a meaningful observance.

(click on photos to enlarge them)

Long family, 1943.  Francis at right.  The  Francis' story follows the Vigil photo, below.

Long family, 1943. Francis at right. The Francis’ story follows the Vigil photo, below.

(I submitted the following commentary to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, May 20, 2016)

The scheduled visit of President Obama to Hiroshima is a great many years late, but commendable, a positive move away from our enslavement to a nuclear system and, hopefully, away from the “war is the answer” response to most any international problem.

I was five when those bombs dropped on Hiroshima, then Nagasaki, in August, 1945.

My mother’s brother, George, since 1943 a Lieutenant on the Destroyer Woodworth, was in the Pacific. The ship’s log records the boat as docking at Tokyo September 10, 1945.

After the bombs, Grandma Rosa Busch wrote her son a letter from the ND farm: “Hurrah, the old war is over!” August 9, George’s wife, Jean, wrote from near Grand Forks, “The news that excited everyone is Russia’s declaration of war on Japan. Surely Japan will crumble now under the combined pressure, new atomic bomb and repeated attacks.” Uncle George, in a letter written about the same day, concurred.

Hardly anyone, likely even new President Truman, knew what this atomic bomb thing was, except that it was something unlike anything before. Aunt Jean enclosed in her letter a newspaper clipping with an optimistic quote from the U.S. War Department: “A revolutionary weapon designed to change war as we know it, or which may even be the instrumentality to end all wars, was set off with an impact which signalized mans entrance into a new physical world.”

No one really knew what we had unleashed, except, as Grandma said in her letter, “the old war is over”.

War had been shown to be hell. 407,316 U. S. war dead.

People doubtless knew others – estimated 50,000,000 altogether – had died in World War II.

But that astronomically larger loss was different. All that mattered was our tribe.

We don’t have the luxury of ignorance, now, over 70 years into the nuclear age. We can assure our own destruction.

Latest estimates from the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI)) are that the U.S. has 7200 nuclear warheads, and we are about to expend billions of dollars to upgrade them? Why?

May 18, 2016, NTI sent a survey. Included in their e-mail was this brief statement, recommending “The Partnership“, by Philip Taubman. The book tells the story of five American Cold Warriors — George P. Shultz, William J. Perry, Henry A. Kissinger, former Senator Sam Nunn, and Stanford physicist Sidney D. Drell–who stunned the world when they came together to announce their support for a world without nuclear weapons. The New York Times called the book “fascinating” and “haunting.” “

We face a simple choice: we can continue to relive and debate the nuclear war past, which ended in an instant in August, 1945, and base our policies and our endless arguments on the perceived need of nuclear retaliatory force.

Or we can show good example of another way, by ridding ourselves of the scourge of nuclear weaponry and other similar weapons of mass destruction.

The downing of the Egyptian plane over the Mediterranean May 19 may give us an opportunity. If it does turn out to have been a terrorist bomb planted somewhere on the planes last ill-fated days, what do we do to retaliate? Launch an atomic bomb? Against who?

Or do we come to our senses and figure out a new way to deal with threats of all kinds, some of which, like the atomic weapon, we created.

President Obama’s visit to Hiroshima will shine a light on a new path. I am thankful for that.

Vigil, Minneapolis MN, May 27, 2016.  Photo by Hiroto

Vigil, Minneapolis MN, May 27, 2016. Photo by Hiroto

Monday, May 30: I watched the President at Hiroshima at 3:40 a.m. on Friday May 27, and was unable to attend the moving vigil in Minneapolis that evening (photo above).

The newspaper didn’t print my op ed, which is their right. My intent was and is to encourage civil conversation among unlike minds about the nuclear issue, and the destructive nature of war itself.

In my letter to the STrib I told only part of Grandma’s story. On July 2, 1944, the young GI in the picture at the beginning of this post (likely just home from Basic Training, before going to war), who lived perhaps three miles from their home, was a parishioner at the same country church in North Dakota, and was in school with her children, was killed in the Pacific: “Fri [Aug 18, 1944] we had a Memorial Mass for Francis Long killed July 2 on Saipan”, Grandma wrote to her son at sea.

Francis had left high school to go to war, not unusual in those days.

July 25, 1945, two weeks before the Bomb, Grandma noted in a letter to her son at sea, that her nephew, next farm over, Marine Captain August Berning, “had a bad battle [on Okinawa] got shot through his jacket”, though apparently not injured.

Everyone was on edge. World War II and death from war was not far away from her farm. It was not far away from anyone, anywhere.

My friend, Lynn Elling, missed President Obama’s speech last Friday: he died Feb. 14. I know what he would say to me and others. The phrase I most often heard from him was that we are at “an open moment in history” to achieve peace, and I agree with him.

Lynn visited the Peace Memorial Park at Hiroshima the year it opened in 1954. His peace moment came early in his two years as a Naval officer in WWII when he saw Tarawa Beach a short time after the horrors there, Nov. 20-23, 1943: Lynn U.S. Navy001. I think he would have been pleased with both the presence of the President at the Memorial, and the tone of the proceedings May 27.

You build bridges by direct engagement, and in steps.

In our polarized U.S. we tend to build walls, choosing confrontation with or detachment from those with differing points of views. We cannot survive in our own personal or interest group silos, much less with bombs in silos everywhere.

We need to look forward, not look backward, or engage in theorizing (as, “the bombs saved 200,000 lives….”) or such.

Still, the Bomb did happen. We still possess thousands of warheads, for no good reason. This world will not survive with nuclear powers. It is our responsibility to change the course, the conversation, not those folks over 70 years ago.

The road to peace is through all of us, one act of peace at a time.

Watch closely, the evidence is there, that more and more of us are getting that message.

Here’s to positive engagement.

A directly related post from my friend, Peter Barus, yesterday, is here.

What has been the human cost of war for the United States? Back in March I put together a graphic which simply speaks about American deaths in war. You can see the single page here (click to enlarge). Of course, this barely scratches the surface, not including injuries, dislocation, and on and on, but gives an idea. War is not a video game.

Human Cost of War001

Convenor and Vietnam vet Barry Riesch  opens the 2016 Vets for Peace Remembrance for Memorial Day, 2016.   This years event lasted over an hour and attracted what appeared to be about 150 people.

Convenor and Vietnam vet Barry Riesch opens the 2016 Vets for Peace Remembrance for Memorial Day, 2016. This years event lasted over an hour and attracted what appeared to be about 150 people.

COMMENTS:
from Christine, sister-in-law of Francis (though he did not live long enough to attend her and his brothers wedding.) We were in Hawaii twice and each time visited Francis’ grave at the Punchbowl Cemetery [Honolulu]. It’s a beautiful well kept cemetery. Thanks for remembering.At the Memorial service in LaMoure they list all those who have died and read off the gold star mothers because Francis was so young when his mother died and Theresa the twin sister came to help raise the family they have also listed her as a gold star mother.

from long-time friend Annelee Woodstrom who lived under the Allied bombs in Germany at the end of WWII and has written about it. Annelee is 90 in September, and in the process of writing her third book. She speaks often to groups. I’m honored to know her and be a friend:

“Thanks for the moving memorial blog May 30th. I feel we need much more emphasis of Memorial Day—

I spoke at Oklee (MN), I always take the first call for me to speak for Memorial Day. This year I had four calls.

When the callers ask me what I charge for the Memorial Day Speech and say, “Nothing”, they always seem to be surprised.

Why would I charge to remember what our soldiers endured? My driver charges mileage, but that is his-her problem.

What disturbs me most almost every year is the absence of the young people. I know they graduated most likely the day before:

Before the [program] was almost done, I ask if I could speak again. I told them that this was NOT on the program, but it needed to be said:

I said that where ever I have spoken I notice the absence of young people.
I bring up the example that once I spoke in a metropolitan city — the band, matter of fact, many of the students, were present;

I commended the students for being present—the band director said that he threatened them to be there or they would not get a grade in music.

I told the listeners today (someone had mentioned my third book.) I said I have decided today that I would suggest for the schools to have graduation AFTER Memorial day —-I would ask the students and graduates to be present—after all, it is the soldiers that died made it possible for them to live in a democracy. They gave much more than a half a day, they gave their lives.

Let them think about that— the parents could also have an influence to get the young people there.

I got a standing ovation after that, would you believe it— Out of over 100 adults, only 2 11th grader’s were there— and they had been ask to sing.

QUESTION? WHEN WE ARE GONE, DO YOU THINK THE YOUNG PEOPLE WILL TAKE OVER AND CELEBRATE MEMORIAL DAY LIKE WE DID?”

from Mary: Always interesting that the human cost of war statistics count those who died…..let us also remember the impossible to count numbers of those who survive a death in any arena.

Response from Dick: A valid point, certainly. You’ll notice in the sheet the hi-lited section at the end of the sheet which attempts to cover all bases in a few words. I chose American death count for two reasons: 1) it is possible to get what seems to be reasonably consistent and reliable data; 2) the low number of American deaths in recent years, coupled by the tiny percentage of the population which actually serves in the military, makes it possible for us to become anesthesized to the true cost of war.

At today’s Vets for Peace observance (which I attend every year), there were a large number of individuals who remembered someone or other affected by their service to the nation. Easily the vast majority of those remembered came home in one piece, at least physically, but ultimately were brought down by causes such as suicide or addiction for which clear causality was what they experienced in war-time.

Perhaps fifteen minutes from the end of the observance three visitors approached me near where I was standing, and one of the women, in very broken English, seemed to be inquiring if it was okay to place their car in a nearby parking lot; the man apparently sensed my uncertainty with the language, and confirmed that was her question. They began talking with the older lady with them, and both their appearance, and their language quite certainly was Vietnamese.

I showed them the Veterans for Peace flag, and they looked more closely at it, and noted the website.

My guess is that most of the people in the group this day, including the organizer of the event, were Vietnam era veterans or their survivors. What a rich and meaningful conversation their could be if there was the time and the inclination to dialogue.

For years, now, there has been a “bottoms up” process of reconciliation going on – veterans returning to visit Vietnam, etc. My friend, Lynn Elling, and his wife, Donna, adopted a Vietnamese youngster, and Lynn and Tod went together to Vietnam in 2013.

There is progress. Political progress works best from the base up – politicians know this. Too bad more of us don’t realize the same.

from Lydia Howell: Thank you for trying to yet again reach out to the Strib—who, like all Corporate media, REFUSES to allow any anti-war voices. (I can’t remember the last time I saw an op-ed in a “major” newspaper or heard an anti-war voice included on tv/radio). Also: thanks for promoting VFP’s Memorial Day event. It seems to me that these “holidays”–today, Veterans’ Day & certainly the 4th of July—have all become times to CELEBRATE war, to use the war dead (at least the AMERICAN VETERAN war dead) to PROMOTE war. So, anything we can do as a “counter-weight” to the celebration is good.

Right now, I am reading a CRUCIAL book: WAR IS A LIE by David Swanson, who WAMM & VFP are bringing to speak SAT. JUNE 11, 6pm (includes potluck) at MACALESTER PLYMOUTH CHURCH, 1658 Lincoln Ave. Saint Paul. WAR IS A LIE exposes the long history of the American people being lied into war by their leaders—that’s right,. George W. Bush was NOT the first, by any measure. The book also exposes the pro-war arguments that are repeated endlessly & never challenged. Much food for thought & highly recommended. I hope to interview Swanson on my show FRI. JUNE 10 (9am) on KFAI Radio.

Chante Wolf May 30, 2016

Chante Wolf May 30, 2016

At Vets for Peace Memorial Day, St. Paul, May 30, 2016

At Vets for Peace Memorial Day, St. Paul, May 30, 2016

Establish a Peace Site, promote Peace

Monday, July 1st, 2013
A Peace Site dedication at St. Paul's Monastery, St. Paul, June, 2009

A Peace Site dedication at St. Paul’s Monastery, St. Paul, June, 2009

My friend, Lynn Elling, founder of World Citizen and co-founder of the Nobel Peace Prize Festival, now part of the Nobel Peace Prize Forum, has a favorite Gandhi saying which he recites often: “If we are to reach real peace in this world and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with children”. The entire quote is here.

For Mr. Elling, promotion of Peace Sites has been an important part of his near life-long history as witness for Peace.

He first learned of the concept “Peace Site” in the early 1980s. I met Mr. Elling and learned of Peace Sites only six years ago, and in many assorted contacts since then, I agree that they are a wonderful community building venture wherever a group chooses to dedicate one, with direct and potentially lasting positive impact on children.

Here are a few notes about Peace Sites, and how anyone can create a Peace Site at school, place of worship, organization, etc:

HISTORY: Best as I can determine, the idea of formal Peace Sites originated in New Jersey in 1982. Here is a column from New York Times at the time: Peace Sites NJ 1982001. Mr. Elling, of Minneapolis MN, learned of the idea and set about replicating it in Minnesota in 1988. Characteristic for him, he engaged all out, to the extent that there are now hundreds of Peace Sites which trace their history back to the local idea of this man.

World Citizens list of Peace Sites as known today can be viewed here.

BECOMING A PEACE SITE: In my six years of knowledge of Peace Sites, I have witnessed and/or learned about many Peace Site Dedications in various settings.

A Peace Site dedication program at Great River School, St. Paul MN, November, 2012.

A Peace Site dedication program at Great River School, St. Paul MN, November, 2012.

There is no “formula” for a Peace Site dedication. There are ideas for what a Peace Site celebration might entail, but in my experience the best Peace Site dedications are home grown through a process in which community members elect the kind of dedication they wish to have.

Often times these will include dedication of a Peace Pole; sometimes of a standard model, sometimes they are a unique creation of a local artist or group of artists.

New Eagle Scout Eric Lusardi, at left, brought a New Peace Site and personally designed Peace Pole to life in New Richmond WI in the summer of 2012.  Melvin Giles, center, helps dedicate the Peace Site on the International Day of Peace Sep 21, 2012.

New Eagle Scout Eric Lusardi, at left, brought a New Peace Site and personally designed Peace Pole to life in New Richmond WI in the summer of 2012. Melvin Giles, center, helps dedicate the Peace Site on the International Day of Peace Sep 21, 2012.

But the key aspect of a successful Peace Site is that a local committee create their own idea and program, and involve the greater community in the Dedication ceremony.

REDEDICATION: One of the remediable problems I have seen with Peace Sites is that, once created, they simply exist and are not rededicated on a regular basis. A great deal of effort is expended to do a Dedication, but no attention is paid to rededicating the Peace Site on a regular (as yearly) basis.

What can too easily happen is that the great esprit of the moment can quickly erode, and if there is no conscious effort on an ongoing basis, before too long, people forget that they are a peace site, or the people who originated the idea in the first place move, or in other ways the institutional memory disappears, and with it the whole idea of a peace site.

It is important for existing Peace Sites to make a commitment to rededicate in some fashion each year.

There is no “cookbook” for Peace Sites, but they do kindle a candle of Peace in the hearts and minds of children and adults wherever they appear.

Consider the possibility of a Peace Site where you live.

Past posts specifically about Peace Sites are here and here.

Some lucky bird may take up residence in this ceramic birdhouse which will grace the top of the completed peace pole when the Peace Site at Washburn High School in south Minneapolis is dedicated in the Fall of 2013..

Some lucky bird may take up residence in this ceramic birdhouse which will grace the top of the completed peace pole when the Peace Site at Washburn High School in south Minneapolis is dedicated in the Fall of 2013..

Rededication at Bloomington MN Jefferson High School May 3, 2013.  The school has an annual rededication as a Peace Site, and it is a major annual event.

Rededication at Bloomington MN Jefferson High School May 3, 2013. The school has an annual rededication as a Peace Site, and it is a major annual event.

#713 – Dick Bernard: Some thoughts after World Law Day, May 1, 2013

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

About 40 of us gathered at the Gandhi Mahal Retaurant last evening, May 1, to Reflect On World Peace Through Law.

The event was one of those that just came together; in this case, less than three weeks. Law Day has been a part of the American tradition since at least 1958, when President Eisenhower proclaimed it, and in fact Law Day was made part of U.S. Law in 1961.

Of course, May 1 has many different emphases:

There is the annual May Day Parade in South Minneapolis, both serious and whimsical – we often attend: (This year it is Sunday May 5). I highly recommend it.

As a Catholic kid in the 1940s, I remember May Day for May Baskets, and “Mary, Queen of the May”; May Day is a long-time international Labor Day. In the Communist days in the USSR and the Soviet bloc, May Day was a day to parade out military hardware in huge parades….

I suppose someone knows exactly why President Eisenhower proclaimed Law Day for May 1, 1958. My personal speculation is that the proclamation had something to do with the successful launch of Sputnik by the USSR in October, 1957. There needed to be a counter to the Soviet May Day.

Whatever the reasons, competing themes give an opportunity to fight over what May Day is or should be…

The May 1 event I was part of was an opportunity to reflect on World Law and its relationship to Peace.

As best as I can tell “World Law Day” has been a particularly Twin Cities interpretation of Law Day (and a most relevant interpretation).

May 1, 2013 evolved into an opportunity to honor the contributions of our elders who possess much accumulated wisdom.

World Law Day was formally celebrated in Minneapolis-St. Paul from at least 1964 through 1996, and was largely the creation of several persons, including Lynn Elling. (page four of the 2013 program has a timeline: Law Day Prog May 1 2013001

David Brink (93) former President of the American Bar Association was our speaker May 1; an impromptu decision was made to call the event the “1st Annual Lynn and Donna Elling Symposium on World Peace Through Law.” Donna passed away in June, 2011, but Lynn, at 92, was there, less than 24 hours returned from two weeks in Vietnam with his adopted Vietnamese son, Tod.

(click on photos to enlarge)

Lynn Elling May 1, 2013.

Lynn Elling May 1, 2013.

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Elder Rev. Lyle Christianson introduced Mr. Brink; Rev. Lowell Erdahl and Joe Schwartzberg, other prominent elders in the peace and justice community were in attendance, and an in-preparation film about World Citizen Garry Davis, 92, and ailing was screened after the event.

If there is to be a “2nd Annual” World Law Event on May 1, 2014 (it’s a Thursday), will depend on the interest of those who attended May 1, and others whose interest may have been stimulated by two commentaries in the May 1, Minneapolis Star Tribune. The commentaries, by Joe Schwartzberg and Jim Nelson, lay out the history and in effect the case for a continuing World Law Day.

Take the time to not only read the commentaries, but to add your own comment. And get active.

Where do you stand?

And if you’re a Twin Citian, consider giving Gandhi Mahal some of your business. They are serious about community orientation (and an excellent restaurant, too!)

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#698 – Dick Bernard: The Hennepin County Commission, Minneapolis Mayor and City Council and the UN Flag, 1968 and 2012.

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

NOTE February 14, 2016: For the past three years the Hennepin County Commissioners, most of whom were on the Commission at the time of the official action March 27, 2012, on many occasions have refused to give an honest answer about why they took down the flag (Note: it had nothing to do with their consistent narrative: legality.)

The “filing cabinet” including much more background for this issue is at March 27, 2013, the link is here.

UPDATE: March 6, 2013: This post was reposted in MinnPost on March 5. A comment there notes a very slight error on my part in describing the location of the Woodbury Veterans Memorial. That error has been corrected below. I am in close proximity to that Memorial every day, and, in fact, am a member of the local American Legion Post involved in the development.

Re Hennepin County, Mr. Elling indicated yesterday that a group of citizens raised $6,000 in 1968 to purchase the flagpoles for the U.S. and United Nations flags at Minneapolis City Hall. This was serious money back then.

The Twin Cities Daily Planet has now also picked up this post.

Questions? Scroll to very end of this post for my contact information. I’ll try to answer.

*

NOTE TO READER: This long post is an effort to convey information, and opinion, about a specific issue I wasn’t aware of, in a community other than my own: an essentially covert act by a government entity to remove a UN flag which had flown quietly with the U.S. and Minnesota flags over Hennepin County Plaza for 44 years, 1968-2012.

I was not seeking to find the issue. To some, the issue described may seem small and insignificant, and it was and remains a non-mandatory issue for the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners – they can do what they wish to do. Nonetheless, to this writer, the voluntary action described illustrates simply one example of a careless action, ignorance of history, and a (possibly) inadvertent and very negative change in tone of leadership in our civil society.

As a society, we choose our own fate through actions of leaders we freely elect. As individual citizens we either seek to change the status quo, or we sit idly by. Simply voting (which includes not bothering to vote informed, or to even vote at all) is only the first action of a responsible citizen. An accumulation of seemingly small actions can have an irreversible long term impact.

It is important to keep our leaders accountable. For Hennepin County residents here is an opportunity.

(click on all photos to enlarge them)

Flags at Veterans Memorial March 2,2013

Flags at Woodbury Veterans Memorial near Woodbury City Hall March 2,2013

Sometimes research leads to unexpected results.

In December, 2012, I finally discovered the documents I needed to document a very important event in Minneapolis in March and May, 1968. They were in the archival records of Minneapolis Mayor Arthur Naftalin (1961-69) at the Minnesota History Center. There were many pages about the 1968 Declaration of World Citizenship of Hennepin County and the City of Minneapolis. Found in the file was Lynn Elling’s‘s history of the event, written in late May, 1968: Henn:Mpls Decl Mar 68001

These documents answered my previously unanswered questions – they were exactly what I was looking for: World Law Day May 1 1968001.

Days after my discovery, unsought and completely unexpected, came a link to an April 2012 Nick Coleman commentary about a March 27, 2012, action by the Hennepin County Board, removing the United Nations flag as one permitted to fly at the Hennepin Co. Government Center, Minneapolis. That issue instantly attracted my attention, and while I’m still searching for more facts, today, March 5, 2013, seems to be the appropriate time to bring the issue to public attention.

March 5, 1968, 45 years ago, was a significant day in the history of Minneapolis and Hennepin County. On that day the Board of Commissioners of Hennepin County, the Minneapolis City Council, and then-Minneapolis Mayor Arthur Naftalin unanimously recognized “the sovereign right of our citizens to declare that their citizenship responsibilities extend beyond our city and nation. We hereby join with other concerned people of the world in a declaration that we share in this world responsibility and that our citizens are in this sense citizens of the world. We pledge our efforts as world citizens to the establishment of permanent peace based on just world law, and to the use of world resources in the service of man and not for his destruction.”

Later, a bi-partisan who’s-who in Minnesota signed the declaration as well.

This Declaration, by “the first American community to take such action”, further requested that the Municipal Building Commission “proudly display the United Nations flag on suitable occasions at the main entrance to the City Hall and the main entrance to the new county building.”

Minneapolis/Hennepin County MN Declaration of World Citizenship signed March 5, 1968, dedicated May 1, 1968

Minneapolis/Hennepin County MN Declaration of World Citizenship signed March 5, 1968, dedicated May 1, 1968

On May 1, 1968, then as now, Law Day, a large group of citizens, including at least 27 Mayors of Hennepin County communities, met at the City Hall to publicly celebrate the Declaration and publicly raise the United Nations flag alongside the American flag. A new flagpole had been raised for this purpose. In Minnesota the observance came to be known as “World Law Day”, as shown in a May 1, 1968, cartoon in the Minneapolis Star: World Law ‘toon My 1 68 001

May 1 68 Elmer Anderson002

Keynote speaker May 1 1968, former Minnesota Governor Elmer L. Andersen, proudly supported the flag raising.

Among other remarks he said the raising of the United Nations flag “represents a commitment to cooperation among nations for world peace, to belief in the common brotherhood of all men of all nations, and to aspirations for a world community of peace, freedom and justice under world law.” His speech can be read here: Elmer Andersen I Trust..001

Elmer L. Andersen  (center), Mayor Arthur Naftalin (right) and unidentified person with the UN flag before raising May 1, 1968

Elmer L. Andersen (center), Mayor Arthur Naftalin (right) and unidentified person with the UN flag before raising May 1, 1968

The United Nations Flag was raised on the new flagpole next to the U.S. flag, a symbol of community and non-partisan friendship with the world. Certainly, proper flag protocol was followed. The flagpole gave permanence to the word “suitable” in the earlier resolution.

That UN Flag, and many successor flags, to my knowledge, probably flew consistently until March 27, 2012, when the Hennepin County Board, quietly in the consent agenda, and likely with no public hearings or even internal debate, directed that the UN Flag be taken down permanently. The directive stated that “solely the flags of the United States, Minnesota and Hennepin County” be raised, “in compliance with the U.S. Flag Code.”

The 2012 Board Resolution is here: Henn Co Res 3:27:12001

I discovered this resolution at the end of December, 2012, and immediately took issue, as a citizen, by writing the Members of the Hennepin County Board: Bernard Ltr 12:2912001. I learned that six of the seven had been on the Board at the time of the earlier resolution; apparently four of them had voted on the resolution, all in favor.

I have received no response from any Board member which in itself is not especially surprising, since I don’t live in Hennepin County, but it nonetheless significant (see comment about Arthur Naftalin, below).

To date, the only rationale I know of, provided by the Board to a citizen of the county, is that flying the U.N. flag in some way goes against the U.S. Flag Code Section VII, Paragraph C. This statute is easily accessed on the internet. The cite from Statute seems to apply only to the U.S. flag “when carried in a procession with another flag”.

The flagpoles at City Hall were stationary, certainly by no means in “procession”. Whatever the case, the Code in question has no penalties for even egregious violations – its tenets are superseded by freedom of speech.

There is nothing illegal about the UN flag. it is a legitimate flag. The UN is headquartered in New York City, and a prime mover for the founding of the United Nations was the United States, led by people like another former Minnesota Governor Harold Stassen. The U.S. has been a dominant player at the UN since its founding. The UN is hardly an enemy nation, though it is portrayed that way by some who seem governed by fear.

There are people who just despise the United Nations, and they won on March 27, 2012. The UN flag was quietly taken down at Hennepin County Government Center.

There is no need for the issue to remain quiet.

The decision makers, the Hennepin County Board, need to hear from citizens. Only in that way will an unfortunate decision be reversed and a proud day, May 1, 1968, be once again honored.

I’d suggest that an appropriate occasion to re-fly the United Nations flag and publicly re-affirm the 1968 Declaration of World Citizenship is May 1, 2013, Law Day.

POSTNOTE:
A BIT OF HISTORYImage
Prime movers of the 1968 Declaration, and a later similar Declaration of the State of Minnesota, were Minneapolis businessmen Stanley Platt and Lynn Elling. Now 92, Lynn still lives in Minneapolis, and remains active. Lynn was the MC of the May 1, 1968, event, and later described the process leading to the Declaration: Henn:Mpls Decl Mar 68001

Lynn Elling at Minneapolis City Hall May 1, 1968 opening the event where Minneapolis and Hennepin County declard themselves World Citizenship Communities, and where the United Nations flag flew alongside the U.S. flag.

Lynn Elling at Minneapolis City Hall May 1, 1968 opening the event where Minneapolis and Hennepin County declared themselves World Citizenship Communities, joining perhaps 1000 other world communities, and where the United Nations flag flew alongside the U.S. flag.

Lynn Elling with the Minneapolis Declaration at Minneapolis City Hall, Dec. 22, 2012.  Photo compliments of Bonnie Fournier of the Smooch Project

Lynn Elling with the Minneapolis Declaration at Minneapolis City Hall, Dec. 22, 2012. Photo compliments of Bonnie Fournier of the Smooch Project

In 1971, the State of Minnesota also declared itself a World Citizen. Again this was completely non-partisan. The Minneapolis Star Tribune editorial spoke to the concept of World Citizenship then.

StarTrib 3-30-71003

THE UNITED NATIONS FLAG DOES CONTINUE TO FLY TO THIS DAY.
Travel two miles east from the Hennepin County Government Center to Augsburg College Campus and you’ll see the United Nations flag proudly flying amongst four others, properly displayed in relation to the U.S. flag. Those attending the 25th Nobel Peace Prize Forum at Augsburg this weekend will see the flags flying, alongside I-94.

Augsburg College, Minneapolis MN, March 3, 2013.  UN flag is at center

Augsburg College, Minneapolis MN, March 3, 2013. UN flag is at center

Augsburg is not unique. Minneapolitan Jim Nelson, who was at the May 1, 1968 dedication, spent his career at Honeywell, where the UN flag flew every day.

THEN AS NOW A SMALL GROUP ATTEMPTED TO BULLY DECISION MAKING.
In 1968, after the dedication, some enraged citizens demanded that the UN flag be removed. On Feb. 7, 1969, Mayor Naftalin wrote colleague Mayor Joseph Alioto of San Francisco affirming the importance of the Declaration. In relevant part, he said “we were pleased to issue our proclamation, although our action has not met with universal approval judging from some of the mail it has prompted.” [there were perhaps 15 negative letters, only three from Hennepin County citizens]. “However, I am still convinced the proclamation has much merit as a symbolic step towards world peace and I view it as being in the best interests of our city, county, state and nation.” (s) Arthur Naftalin, Mayor.

Interestingly, and in contrast to subsequent action by the members of the 2012-13 Hennepin County Board, Mayor Naftalin wrote individual and respectful acknowledgement letters to every one of those who complained about the Declaration of World Citizenship, regardless of where they were from, or how abusive the tone of their letter (and there were some “hum-dingers”). (I have copied the entirety of the relevant files).

Mayor Naftalin was connected with the greater world; he recognized he was more than leader of just a major city, but himself a World Citizen. I wonder about today’s Hennepin County Board.

WHY I FEEL THE FLAG ISSUE IS AN IMPORTANT ONE.
Perhaps like most people, I do not customarily notice flags, their placement, etc.

This incident has caused me to look more closely at flags I see displayed.

The photo at the beginning of this post is from Woodbury, my home, and in that setting the U.S. flag is set considerably above all of the other flags (primarily military banners – Army, etc.) One might call the Woodbury display a “War Memorial”.

At Augsburg, on the other hand, the flags are in compliance with the Code, but at equal height, neither subordinate nor superior. They more befit the theme of “Peace” within and among nations. There is an entirely different tone.

There are notes of irony, for instance: doubtless there are “State’s Rights” people who might logically demand that their State flag be set higher than the national banner, while at the same time demanding that only the U.S. flag be revered.

Emotion too often trumps reason.

The flag debate is a debate about the tone of our society. How we see ourselves as compared with others.

This is an important question to be considered and discussed.
*
Questions? Information that you know that would help further enlighten myself or others on the issue?
Send to
Dick Bernard
dick_bernardATmeDOTcom
or
6905 Romeo Road
Woodbury MN 55125-2421

#674 – Dick Bernard: The War for Peace…

Monday, January 7th, 2013

UPDATE Jan. 7, 2013: note comment at end from Garry Davis.
UPDATE Aug, 2013: Garry Davis passed away at the end of July, 2013. See this post.

Sunday [Jan 6,2013] I was privileged to be among nearly 100 people invited to a private preview of a very special eye-opening film, which has the potential to inspire the public with a new way of looking at the world.

In the documentary, which is still in development, World Citizen #1 Garry Davis engaged us with his fascinating life story. A riveting story-teller, he told us how his quest for a different kind of world began during World War II, when in the wake of his own brother being killed in action, he found himself killing German brothers and families in B-17 bomber runs on German cities.

He couldn’t see any sense in killing others to avenge the killing of his brother and this changed his life. He came to see no real sense in even national borders. In the end, he felt, people have to relate to other people, and figure out ways to get along, otherwise our human world cannot survive. Borders were artificial fences, especially as they defined countries.

His actions made him controversial.

The in progress film about Davis, which I think will be a very important one, develops the story of what happened later in Davis’ life, and how his commitment to peace could be a template for us all.

The screening was co-sponsored by Global Solutions Minnesota, World Citizen (founded by Lynn Elling and others in 1972), A Million Copies, and Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers. The Film Society of Minneapolis and St. Paul was also co-sponsor and great host for the event, which was presented in their theater at St. Anthony Main, Minneapolis.

Of course, life is not always simple. Paradoxically, on the same Sunday of the screening, another “war” was about to break out.

President Obama is nominating former Sen. and Vietnam War veteran Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense, and the issue appears to be drawn on whether Hagel will be sufficiently tough as a representative of American interests. Much will be said in coming days. Here’s a good summary of the first salvos.

This nomination battle is well worth watching.

Garry Davis is still very much alive, at 91, and at the screening on Sunday was Minneapolitan Lynn Ellling, near 92, who remains a lion in the quest for World Citizenship and Peace.

After the screening, about half of us stayed for an interesting Skype conversation between Garry Davis and Lynn Elling and others on the topic of world citizenship.

(click on photos to enlarge)

Garry Davis (on screen from Vermont via Skype), Lynn Elling, film producer Arthur Kanegis and a guest share thoughts on the pursuit of world peace on January 6.

Such a topic, Peace, is not a simple one, and there are differences of opinions of how one achieves lasting Peace, but the importance lies in the potential good of the conversation, and of working together to resolve differences.

Garry Davis – and his counterpart Lynn Elling – experienced War up front and very personally in WWII, and neither considers War an option for achieving Peace.

In the War paradigm, which the upcoming debate over Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense is all about, the only conversation will be about the Power of one nation to dominate others, in my opinion.

I had seen an early draft of the Davis film in October, 2012, and it caused me to do reflecting on my own about the issues raised, long before the January 6 preview.

Indeed, Davis was and still is “controversial”.

So, too, were Nelson Mandela who endured years of prison before becoming a world hero; and more recently Aung San Suu Kyi, the 1991 Nobel Laureate from Myanmar who couldn’t accept her award in person for fear that she wouldn’t be allowed back in her own country, and endured 21 years of house arrest within her own country, and made one of her first public international statements to the Nobel Peace Prize Forum at Augsburg College in Minneapolis in March 2012. Most recently, she had as a house guest, President Obama.

There is a very long list of “controversial” people who have made a difference and can be role models for us.

Being controversial is often very desirable and good.

I also remembered a couple of sentences written by Martin Luther King Jr. in his book, Why We Can’t Wait, published in 1964, shortly after the assassination of President Kennedy.

King had not long before endured the Birmingham Jail and some months later gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech on the Washington DC Mall.

He wrote this in his book:

“I am reminded of something President Kennedy said to me at the White House following the signing of the Birmingham agreement.

“Our judgment of Bull Connor should not be too harsh” he commented. “After all, in his way, he has done a good deal for civil-rights legislation this year.”

Immediately following these sentences, King says this, a message to all of us: “It was the people who moved their leaders, not the leaders who moved the people….”

We of that generation tend to forget a crucial fact: at the time of this conversation, Martin Luther King Jr was 33 years old; President John F. Kennedy was 46.

When Lynn Elling MC’ed the event where Minneapolis and Hennepin County became the first World Citizenship city and county in the United States on May 1, 1968, Lynn was 47 years old. Three years later, in March, 1971, Minnesota as a state became World Citizen. Mr Elling was heavily involved in both actions, which were non-partisan and had a very impressive list of bi-partisan supporters.

Lynn Elling at Minneapolis City Hall May 1, 1968 opening the event where Minneapolis and Hennepin County declared themselves World Citizenship Communities, and where the United Nations flag flew alongside the U.S. flag.

Minneapolis/Hennepin County MN Declaration of World Citizenship signed March 5, 1968, dedicated May 1, 1968

Lynn Elling with the Minneapolis Declaration at Minneapolis City Hall, Dec. 22, 2012. Photo compliments of Bonnie Fournier of the Smooch Project

Minnesota Declaration of World Citizenship March, 1971. photo courtesy of Bonnie Fournier, Smooch Project

The future is with the young. We need to help them choose a path which will give them a positive future.

UPDATE Jan 7. 2013: received from Garry Davis:
Hi Dick,

Great blog! Loved it! So happy you referred to my personal “history” site ( a real archaic opus compared to what one sees today, but still containing some interesting archival material). For instance, under “World Citizenship Movement & the World Government,” in the 3nd para. starting “In 2 years over 750,000 people registered, etc.” you will note “In June, ‘mondialized’ Cahors.”

This small southern French town (famous for its wine) actually started the “Mundialization Movement” from which the 1971 statement of “Mundialization” of the State of Minnesota derived followed by the State of Iowa on October 25, 1973. (For the full list see here). [NOTE: Minneapolis and Hennepin County MN mundialized March 5, 1968.]

Colonel Robert Sarrazac, former Maquis during WWII and my principal “organization” in Paris, was the author of the first “Mundialization” declaration.

Maybe a footnote could be added to fill out this important item.

Looking forward to having the pleasure of meeting you in the Spring.

Warmly, in one global village,

Garry

#579 – Dick Bernard: Donna Elling

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

This afternoon Donna Elling, 88, will be remembered at First Universalist Church in south Minneapolis. We’ll be there, and I expect there’ll be a large crowd. She richly deserves a tribute.

I can’t say I knew Donna well, except through others voices and memories. When I met her and her husband, Lynn, five years ago, her memory was already in decline, but there was no question that she was a classy lady, a partner with her husband since their marriage in 1943, and a loving parent, grand, and great-grandparent.

I got to know Lynn much better than Donna in these past five years. But as I retrace that time, I had many occasions to see Donna. Where Lynn was, so was Donna, always gracious and friendly. Donna was always there, also, in Lynn’s conversation stream. They had a rich 68 years together.

Others can and will relive and recall her long and productive life much better than I.

Some years ago Lynn shared with me his photo album and I made photo copies of some of the pages.

Yesterday, at a meeting, I shared two photo pages of Donna taken from that album. One is below, and both are attached as a pdf Donna Elling 1953001. Appropriately, the magazine is for June 21, the time of the soon-to-occur Summer Solstice.

(click to enlarge photos)

Donna Elling, June 21, 1953 St. Paul Pioneer Press

In my own photo files, there are surprisingly numerous photos of Donna, since where Lynn was, so was Donna to be found.

For her farewell I choose this photo, from September, 2011, at their home in south Minneapolis.

Lynn and Donna Elling, September, 2011

In Peace.

The family has chosen World Citizen, the organization Lynn founded in 1982, as a preferred memorial, and I would ask consideration of Lynn’s ‘driving dream’ which included places (as their home was) as Peace Sites. All information can be found at World Citizen’s website, here.

Do take a look.

Another of Lynn Elling’s passions was the Nobel Peace Prize Festival, now integrated into the Nobel Peace Prize Forum at Augsburg College, Minneapolis MN. One of the last photos I have of Donna and Lynn together was taken at a reception for 1993 co-Nobel Laureate F. W. deKlerk of S. Africa.

from right: Lynn and Donna Elling, F. W. deKlerk, Cathy and Dick Bernard, March 2, 2012

UPDATE June 16, 2012:
Donna had a marvelous celebration of her life on June 13. I’d estimate approximately 300 friends and family attended.
Here’s a great slideshow remembering her life.

Lynn remembers Donna, his spouse of 68 years, at the Memorial Service June 13, 2012

#518 – Dick Bernard: The Ask.

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

A day or so ago I answered the phone and a little-person voice announced herself as “Susie”.

Susie? I thought it was a misdial. Then her mother came on, and I learned that I was talking to granddaughter Lucy, all irrepressible five years of her.

Her sisters, Girl Scouts, had convinced her to call us to alert us to Girl Scout cookie time. As I type this blog, their Mom is on the way to our house with the goods, just in time for Mardi Gras.

Earlier today, I stopped at Lucy’s aunts school. We were comparing notes. Joni said that she’d recently seen Lucy, and the first words out of her mouth were “how many boxes?”

Ah, salesmanship, and marketing….

It all reminded me of an occasion a year ago when I was part of a small group meeting with a top executive at a major company to cadge a donation for the Nobel Peace Prize Festival (now Forum) at Augsburg. The last member of our group, a nationally known figure, came into the lobby, and his first statement was, “what’s the ask?” What did we want from this appointment? He knew the trade.

Yes, we made the sale that day. It helps to have people along who know how selling goes….

I never was in the sales profession, but I admire good salespeople, and from time to time I pick up useful tips, like “what’s the ask?”

The guy who called the meeting that day was my friend Lynn Elling, then 90, who is a retired and successful salesman (financial products, Lincoln Life).

Recently he and I were visiting and he felt inclined to describe the sales process, simplified. He said (and this is useful for any of us selling anything), that the rule of thumb was that it takes three calls to get an appointment, and three appointments to get a sale. Most of us don’t have the stamina to jump through those hoops.

Then he described the Sales Pyramid, which is very simple, really: 1) you must know something (“credential”); 2) you must disturb the client; 3) then you propose a solution; and 4) you close the sale.

Oh so simple.

Noting Lynn Elling's reminisences of selling...Jan. 2012

I thought back to other little ditties relating to selling: to get a sale you must sell the product “7 times in 7 ways”; if you want a successful event, remember three F’s: Food, Fun, Family.

A survival skill for me in my early career was to internalize “patience and persistence pays”.

And as we all know from experience, a good “sale” is one where both the salesperson and the customer win, and months later the customer is glad he or she ‘bit’. We all know what that looks like.

Not so cool is when the objective requires that one side win, and the other lose…(very much like contemporary politics).

Of course, all of the strategies, even the good ones, don’t always work.

Recently a retired minister friend recalled a pitch someone had made to magnate Curt Carlson. His colleague was very nervous, and couldn’t get to the point. Mr. Carlson intervened, and coached the minister along.

The pitch was made, and Mr. Carlson responded, “I decline….”

Good luck Girl Scouts.

Oh yes. We’re now the owners of ten boxes….

UPDATE April 22, 2012: Recently I was visiting my friend, Lynn Elling (see above), and he had by his side the autobiography of CNN founder and mogul Ted Turner. In the book, Call Me Ted, Lynn said that Turner’s mantra for success was very simple:
“Early to bed,
Early to rise,
Work like hell,
and Advertise.”

Makes sense to me.

#511 – Dick Bernard: Lynn Elling, World War II & Korea Veteran, Businessman, World Citizen

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

UPDATE, May 7, 2016:
LYNN ELLING, Minneapolis MN, died February 14, 2016, a few days short of 95 years of age. You can read his obituary here. A followup feature obit was published in the Minneapolis paper on February 25, 2016, can be read here. See also Celebration May 1 2016001 of his life on May 1, 2016.

Mr. Elling was a giant for peace. My personal attempts to summarize his life can be read below. My knowledge of his work, very minimal at first, expanded with virtually every visit during the 9 years I was privileged to know him.

He was a remarkable missionary for Peace, born of his experience during and following World War II. (More here: Lynn U.S. Navy001)

On May 14, 2014, as part of an archival project focusing on Peace Elders in Minnesota, Ehtasham Anwar and Suhail Ahmed, both of Pakistan, did a 57 minute video of Mr. Elling recalling his years as a peace activist.

The unedited film can be viewed in its entirety here. The occasional voices in the background are Ehtasham (doing the interview) and Dick Bernard.

My comment about the interview, as it appears at the YouTube site, is: “Mr. Elling was 93 at the time of this interview in Minneapolis, MN May 14, 2014. I was privileged to be part of the interview planning and process, and from time to time I’ll interject a comment or question in this film. The interviewer is Ehtasham Anwar, then a Fulbright/Humphrey Fellow at the University of Minnesota Law School Human Rights Center. This interview was part of a project to interview ten elders in the peace movement. Mr. Elling’s was the second interview in the series, which was completed in mid-June, 2014. This video is unedited – it is essentially raw video – thus no effort has been made to correct content. I knew Mr. Elling for seven years before this interview. His memory as shared in this video was basically very sound, based on my own knowledge of his work, and past events. Any errors can be excused. He was a man who “walked the talk” for his passion of peace. He died February 14, 2016, days short of his 95th birthday. He was promoting peace until his death.”

Mr. Elling identified particularly with several organizations which still exist in the Twin Cities:
* World Federalists, now Citizens for Global Solutions MN.
* United Nations Association. It was during his time with UNA that he produced the film “Man’s Next Giant Leap” in 1972. The film, which can be viewed here, features singer John Denver and many Twin Cities civic and community leaders.
Mr. Elling served at one time as President of both of the above local organizations.
* World Citizen, was an organization he founded in 1972, and in which he was active until his death. I would say World Citizen was always the organization of which he was most proud.
* He was one of the Charter Members of Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers, founded 1995-96.
* Nobel Peace Prize Festival (now the Youth Festival of the Nobel Peace Prize Forum) at Augsburg College, Minneapolis, which he co-founded in 1996, and participated in until his final years. A May 1, 2016, tribute from the Peace Prize Forum can be read here.
* Mr. Elling was a Founding Member of the U.S. Peace Memorial Foundation. He has been nominated for that organizations annual Peace Prize for 2016. The application letter is here: Lynn Elling nom Apr 2016001
* annually, Mr. Elling participated in the re-dedication of Jefferson High School in Bloomington MN as a Peace Site, and indeed at other places. His passion for peace sites was avid, from the time he first learned of the concept in 1982.
* Concordia Language Villages at Bemidji, at which he dedicated as a peace site in 1996, and annually participated in a rededication of that most impressive peace site.
* As a Naval officer in WWII who saw the horrors of war, Mr. Elling would share the ideals and aspirations of the Veterans for Peace.
* perhaps more than anyone else, Mr. Elling was instrumental in the flying of the United Nations flag at what is now the Hennepin County Government Center, May 1, 1968. The flag flew there, next to the United States flag, until March 27, 2012. Here is what Lynn wrote about the history of the flag in May, 1968: May 1 1968 UN Flag Mpls001. Much more about this issue can be read here.

He is at Peace. His mission must continue.
Dick Bernard
dick_bernard@msn.com
May 16, 2016

* * * * *

UPDATE December 11, 2013: Personal statement: Dick Bernard.
I initiated A Million Copies website in March, 2008. At the time, I had known Mr. Elling for only nine months. As time passes, he continues as a most remarkable and committed seeker of Peace in our world. For the interested reader, place the words Lynn Elling in the search box of this blog, and you will find many other posts which refer to him in one way or another. He walks the talk for Peace. I’m honored to know him. Here is a recent summary of his experience/work for peace over the last 80 years: Lynn Elling Timeline 1943-2013. The most recent post which relates specifically to Mr. Elling is about the U.S. Declaration of World Citizenship signed by President Lyndon Johnson in 1965. You can read it here.

UPDATE June 20, 2012: Lynn’s spouse of 68 years, Donna Elling, passed away June 1, 2012. Here is a blog post about Donna and Lynn and their family, first posted on the day of her Memorial Service June 13, 2012.

UPDATE January 4, 2013: During the fall and early winter of 2012, I found more information particularly about the Minneapolis/Hennepin County Declaration of World Citizenship March 5, 1968. That information has been added to this post, including some photos of the May 1, 1968, dedication ceremony taken by Donna Elling.

I met Lynn Elling in June, 2007. In November of that year I wrote the below commentary for Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers (original here), and in March, 2008, I rolled out the Million Copies website tribute to Lynn Elling and Professor Joe Schwartzberg, which remains essentially identical to when it was first published.

Both Mr. Elling and Dr. Schwartzberg remain with us, and both remain very, very active in their respective passions.

This seems to be a good time to update the original commentary about Lynn. (Changes to original text are minimal. The photographs are new additions.)

March 1-3, 2012 inaugurates the new Augsburg Nobel Peace Prize Forum, incorporating the long existing Nobel Peace Prize Festival, also at Augsburg, in which Lynn had a major co-founding role, and through the years has been a remaining powerful and crucial presence as both worker and fund-raiser for this major event.

The histories of both Festival and Forum are here.

Lynn and his spouse, Donna, still live in south Minneapolis. They celebrated 68 years of marriage last fall. Below are photos taken September 22, 2011, at their home; and in February, 1972.

(click on all photos to enlarge them)

Lynn and Donna Elling September 22, 2011

Lynn and Donna Elling World Service Authority Passport photo February 7, 1972

Lynn and Donna Elling World Service Authority Passport photo February 7, 1972

Lynn remains very active in working for an enduring peace, particularly with children’s programs such as Peace Sites, also here, and listing here: World Citiz Peace Sites001. And Peace Education.

Donna and Lynn, congratulations and best wishes to you both.

UPDATE April 17, 2013: Here is an abbreviated timeline of Lynn Elling’s efforts for World Peace: Lynn Elling Timeline001 It is much abbreviated.

*

LYNN ELLING: A MILLION COPIES MADE: Visioning a New Declaration of World Citizenship
by Dick Bernard
Originally published Nov. 5, 2007 at Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers , slightly revised February 3, 2011, and December 3, 2012.

I don’t know why Ed McCurdy chose the line “a million copies made” for his circa 1950 peace anthem, “Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream”.

Nor do I know why John Denver especially liked that song (a 1971 rendition performed by him on the U.S. Capitol steps is ‘front and center’ at amillioncopies.info.)

All I know is that I heard Lynn Elling lead us in singing that song back in the spring of 2007; and that the lyric “A million copies made” has stuck with me.

Who is this Lynn Elling?

And what does he have to do with peace and justice?

Plenty.

As a young LST (Landing Ship Tank #172) officer in WWII, Lynn Elling saw the horrors of War closeup in the South Pacific, at places like Tarawa. The history of LST 172 is here: Lynn Elling LST 172001,

Later he was recalled to service, and served in the Korean conflict, also on an LST.

Lynn Elling on USS LST 172 in the Pacific, 1944

Born in 1921 and a life long Minnesotan, after WWII Elling entered the insurance and financial planning business with Lincoln Life, becoming very successful in the profession. But early in his post-war career, he was discouraged and almost quit. Selling is very hard work. At a critical point in his early professional life, 1947, a workshop leader, Maxwell Maltz (Psycho Cybernetics) unlocked the door to Lynn’s future success. Maltz taught that if one could visualize a goal in technicolor, 3-dimension and stereophonic sound, the goal could be achieved. Elling listened, and followed Maltz’s advice, and it worked.

But Elling never forgot what he’d seen and experienced on that LST in the south Pacific in WWII.

Assorted experiences after WWII, including the service in the Korean conflict and visiting Hiroshima in 1954 and again in 1963, and opportunities to meet with and get to know people like Thor Heyerdahl (Kon Tiki), Norman Cousins, and many others, led to Lynn’s life long passion to build a culture of Peace and World Citizenship. Through leaders like MN Gov. Wendell R. Anderson, and mentors like Minneapolis business executive Stanley Platt, his wife Martha Platt, former Minnesota Governor Elmer L. Andersen and others, Elling was encouraged in his efforts.

His enduring monument is World Citizen, Inc.. World Citizen is a long-time member of Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers (MAP).

In the Fall of 1967, Stanley Platt and Lynn worked with then-Minneapolis Mayor Arthur Naftalin on a Declaration of World Citizenship, patterned on a then rapidly expanding program called “Mundialization” of cities particularly in Japan, France and Canada. Mayor Naftalin took the lead on the initiative, and on March 5, 1968, Minneapolis City Council and Hennepin County Board of Commissioners approved the resolution and the Declaration was signed by numerous parties. Here is a photo of a copy of the 1968 Declaration:

(click to enlarge)

Minneapolis/Hennepin Co MN Declaration of World Citizenship March 5, 1968

This was the first such declaration by a United States City. Signers of the Declaration and twenty-eight mayors from area communities attended the public declaration on Law Day, May 1, 1968.
Signers of the Declaration were: Chair, Henn. Co Board of Commissioners Robert Janes; Mayor of Minneapolis Arthur Naftalin; President Minneapolis City Council Daniel Cohen; Gov. Harold Levander; Oscar Knutson, Chief Justice Minnesota Supreme Court; Eli Kahn, President Minnesota Rabbinical Association; Congressman Don Fraser; Chairs of Minnesota Republican and DFL parties, George Thiss and Warren Spannaus; Aux. Bishop of Catholic Archdiocese James Shannon; Irene Janski, President of MN League of Women Voters; President MN United World Federalists, Sidney Feinberg, Minnesota State Bar Assoc; Harold Greenwood Jr, United Nations Association of Minnesota.

Former MN Governor Elmer L. Andersen spoke at the ceremony that day, very proud that the occasion marked the first flying of the United Nations flag by Minneapolis and Hennepin County, [and] the first such declaration and UN flag flying by any major community in the United States. Thus this becomes a deeply significant occasion in our nation’s history. It represents a commitment to cooperation among nations for world peace, to belief in the common brotherhood of all men of all nations, and to aspirations for a world community of peace, freedom and justice under world law.

In the same speech, he said “that we must look upon all the peoples of the world as one community, and we must find a way to operate under a body of world law to preserve peace.” (quotes from pages 151-52 of I Trust to be Believed, significant speeches by Elmer L. Andersen edited by Lori Sturdevant 2004). Text: Elmer Andersen I Trust..001

Elmer L. Andersen speech, City Hall, Minneapolis, May 1, 1968. Photo by Donna Elling

Gov. Elmer L. Andersen (center left) with Minneapolis Mayor Arthur Naftalin, May 1, 1968, Minneapolis City Hall. Photo by Donna Elling.

Lynn Elling speaks at May 1, 1968, ceremony at Minneapolis City Hall. In foreground, holding the Declaration, is Warren Spannaus, then Chair of the Minnesota DFL party, later Attorney General. Phot by Donna Elling.

Lynn’s passion for peace continued with another remarkable achievement in the spring of 1971 when 26 prominent leaders, including all notable Minnesota Republicans and Democrats, and then-UN Secretary General U Thant, signed a declaration of World Citizenship whose major proviso recognized “the sovereign right of our citizens to declare that their citizenship responsibilities extend beyond our state and nation. We hereby join with other concerned people of the world in a declaration that we share in this world responsibility and that our citizens are in this sense citizens of the world. We pledge our efforts as world citizens to the establishment of permanent peace based on just world law and to the use of world resources in the service of man and not for his destruction.”

Coming as it did during the darkest times of the Vietnam War, the 1971 bi-partisan Declaration is remarkable. Similar declarations were entered into in several other states and many communities.

See amillioncopies.info for more information about the entire declaration, which includes the signatures of all its very prominent signers , as well as Lynn’s current proposal.

In 1971, the Vietnam War raged on. It was difficult for most Americans to visualize an end to the deadly conflict. For those old enough to remember, the late 1960s and early 1970s was a time of deep division in this country. American youth were dying by the thousands in southeast Asia, as were millions of fellow world citizens in southeast Asian countries.

Minnesota Declaration of World Citizenship March 1971

Here’s a Minneapolis Star Tribune editorial about the 1971 Minnesota Declaration:

Also accessible at the website is [the Elling led] 1972 film, “Man’s Next Giant Leap”, featuring John Denver and many then-notable Minnesota leaders, whose sole purpose was Peace Education for children and adults.

In 1972, Lynn and others founded World Citizen, Inc; in 1988, Peace Sites became integral to World Citizen. Peace Poles have been publicized by World Citizen for many years.

In 1996 Lynn Elling co-founded the Nobel Peace Prize Festival, now part of Nobel Peace Prize Forum, at Augsburg College in Minneapolis. Both remain. (The link to the Peace Prize Festival is here; in 2012 the Festival becomes part of the Forum, and the history of both is accessible here.)

As so often happens, after a flurry of attention, the remarkable 1971 declaration literally ended up in a closet, its immense significance unnoticed by later generations.

Lynn Elling never forgot the 1971 declaration and in the spring of 2007 put it back on the table with a proposed update to fit the present day. Lynn is grateful to Dr. Joseph Schwartzberg, professor emeritus at the University of Minnesota, who prepared the current proposal.

Today, of course, we are confronted by circumstances even more compelling and troubling than visited the U.S. and the world in 1971.

Today war is almost an abstract reality for many of us, something that seems to have no apparent negative consequences for us, mostly affecting people we’ll never see face-to-face, with fewer of ‘our own’ dying in places far away, no military draft facing young people, our war financed on a national credit card for our grandchildren to pay.

In a real sense we are playing a deadly video game. Additionally, we are beset with other potentially calamitous problems ignored at our peril. No longer can we pretend that our problems are confined to some other place far away, or even controllable by our own will. We are vulnerable in a way that we do not want to understand.

There has never been a greater need for world citizenship than there is today.

When Lynn secured his last signature on the 1971 declaration, achieving mastery in the space race was still a priority. Today, our very survival as human beings is rooted on what is happening on our own planet in all ways: human relationships, resource depletion, increasing inequities between peoples, climate change…the list goes on and on. Today’s priority must be right here on the sphere we call home – the earth. We are part of the global community; isolation and domination are no longer options.

Lynn Elling deserves immense credit and admiration for not only his accomplishment in 1971, but for reigniting the issue for today’s world.

Thanks, Lynn, for all you’ve done.

To all of you, stay tuned as we “retool and refuel” Lynn’s dream and take it, as he likes to say, “to the stratosphere”.

Lynn Elling World Service Authority Passport Photo 1975

Lynn Elling World Service Authority Passport Photo 1975

Memorial Day 2013, Lynn Elling with family at their Lake Cabin, celebrate Donna's life and inter her ashes at the base of a favored tree.

Memorial Day 2013, Lynn Elling with family at their Lake Cabin, celebrate Donna’s life and inter her ashes at the base of a favored tree.

#496 – War Horse…Imagine Peace

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

We went to an outstanding movie at the local theater yesterday: Steven Spielberg’s War Horse. My spouse asked me more than once, “are you all right?” It is one of those films that elicits strong emotional response. I would guess I wasn’t alone among the surprisingly large crowd in the dark, quiet theater.

War Horse opened Christmas Day and is set in WWI England and France. There are a great plenty of reviews. Take your pick.

My personal reviewer – the friend who urged us to see the movie – was my friend, 90 year old Lynn Elling, born shortly after WWI and a veteran of the Pacific war in WWII, an officer on an LST in both WWII and Korea, who saw in person the carnage at places like Tarawa (WWII ship biography for LST 172 at end of this post).

Lynn saw War Horse opening day. The Elling’s Christmas letter, received pre-release, urged receivers to see the film.

Lynn’s visit to Hiroshima in 1954 cemented his lifelong dedication to seeking enduring peace in our world; he is tireless in his quest.

Lynn Elling aboard LST 172, 1944

(click on photos to enlarge them)

Lynn’s story can be found here.

Sure, War Horse is simply a story, as are most movies we attend. But it elevates the better side of humanity.

I would suspect its timed release on Christmas Day in some way was meant to mirror the oft-told story of the Christmas Day Truce on the WWI battle lines. There are endless renditions of this true story. Here’s the portal to them – take your pick.

There is truly an opportunity for peace on earth, and it is the people like ourselves who will make it happen.

See War Horse for yourself. I don’t believe the two hours and twenty minutes will disappoint.

Lynn and Donna Elling Sep 22, 2011

The account of service of LST 172 in WWII, below (click to enlarge) and in pdf form here: Lynn Elling LST 172001

Biography of LST 172

#451 – Dick Bernard: Hummingbird. Lynn Elling and Wangari Maathai

Thursday, October 6th, 2011

Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Wangari Maathai died September 25, 2011, in a Kenya hospital. I never met her, or knew much about her. I wish I had.

My friend Lynn Elling asked retired Minneapolis teacher Nancy Paxson to send along Ms Maathai’s obituary and her wonderful and inspirational recitation “I will be a Hummingbird”.

Lynn faces serious surgery Monday, October 10, and at 90 is an eternal optimist. “Can’t” or other negative talk is not part of Lynn’s vocabulary. That hummingbird had nothing on Lynn Elling, especially when it came to his absolute passion for peace.

As Monday approaches for Lynn, I want to share a memory that he shared with me recently.

Lynn is founder of World Citizen, and co-founder of the Nobel Peace Prize Festival, an annual event at Augsburg College in Minneapolis.

Each year since 1996, the Peace Prize Laureate of a preceding year has been invited to attend the Festival at Augsburg, and several laureates have attended.

Dr. Maathai was awarded the Peace Prize in 2004 for her Green Belt movement in her native Kenya, and she accepted the invitation to come speak to children at the March 2006 Augsburg Peace Prize Festival.

All was ready for the Festival except for the heavy snowstorm which brought the Twin Cities to a standstill. In early morning, the Festival organizers cancelled the event, and Dr. Maathai was marooned at the West Bank Holiday Inn in Minneapolis.

As Lynn recounted, he and several others managed to get to the hotel and at least give Dr. Maathai some company. She was in tears. She had so wanted to address the children at the Festival. Of course it wasn’t possible.

She made a huge contribution to the betterment of her country and the world in her lifetime.

The same can be said for Lynn Elling, though his accomplishments were more local.

Dr. Maathai’s Hummingbird lives on, thanks to Lynn.

Best wishes, Lynn, as you face your surgery next Monday.

Lynn and Donna Elling, September 22, 2011

More about Lynn Elling here.

UPDATE October 13, 2011:
After posting this item, my wife and I were on an out of town trip for the following six days.

Lynn’s surgery appears to have been successful, and he is back home.

On October 6, Nancy Paxson sent an e-mail, received on my return, which further comments on the snowy day in Minneapolis in early 2006: “Hi, I treasure recalling that day. My husband & I drove through the deep snow to her hotel and were honored to be included in the group to go to her hotel room. The Ellings were there, as well as Joe [Schwartzberg] and the Augsburg camera guys who video taped her telling the hummingbird story and greeting the festival children, all to be shown in April when we held the rescheduled festival. I have pictures of that morning in her hotel (someplace ) and sent copies to Ellings and others. My Keewaydin [school] Peace Choir was prepared to honor her, so she asked me to sing bits of the songs for her, and we presented her with a lovely photo book of trees and wrapped it in one of those rainbow bandanas that the peace choir wore to perform. She was tickled at that, because when she was in Japan, they had a tradition of gifting in lovely cloth wrapping. I forget the term. I was a special day, and I have shared it with many students over the years, as we study the laureates.”

And, of course, in the past few days three women, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Leymah Gbowee of Liberia and Tawakkul Karman of Yemen, were named the Nobel Peace Prize Award Winners for 2011. According to the Nobel official site, their Awards are “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.”