Almost 64 years ago this month, President Truman returned to his hometown of Independence, Missouri to announced that the United States had signed the United Nations Charter. In honor of that event in American and world history, the United Nations Association of Greater Kansas City along with numerous supporters created the U.N. Peace Plaza.
Today, the site is often overshadowed by the nearby the Community of Christ Temple (formerly Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints aka the Mormons). Their temple includes a giant spiral tower that often draws the eye away from the more modest Peace Plaza, but we will address their grandious form of faith in a later post.
The focal point is the bronze statue of a woman of a woman releasing a dove from her fingertips - the figure is absolutely lovely. The way she strains upwards and arches her back with her arms outstreached shows a complete openness, willingness and trustingness. To me that is the very image of peace: a world where a young woman is free to safely expand herself without worrying what might strike back. It is a graceful figure, masterfully designed and executed with a true artistic vision of what peace really means.
She stands on a dome, representing how the Earth looks from outer space. Another beautifully symbolic element of the design - that is showing how small and interconnected the world really is, if only we look at it from the right angle. Behind the statue and the dome are three flags representing the United States, the United Nations and the state of Missouri.
Around the altar are benches and bricks engraved with dedications as well as commemorative plaques. It is meant to serve as a meditative garden where people can contemplate "mankind's desire for planetary harmony." I was incredibly moved to discover that this site also serves as a memorial for the Peacekeeping Forces of the United Nations. Unfortunately, I could not stay long to contemplate. The sky was darkening and there was a wicked wind kicking up. Proof mother nature isn't always so peaceful either.
Total Trip Time: 45 minutes
Soundtrack: "Middle Cyclone" Neko Case