Mt. Evans Rotary Peace Memorial

Reported by Stephanie Ursini, Denver Southeast Rotary Club, and District PR Chair

View from the Top of Mt. Evans, ColoradoJuly 15, 2006 – High atop Mt. Evans at over 14,000 feet was a celebration embracing beauty and history – from the brilliant blue sun drenched sky (yet brisk 55 degrees) to the sentiment, to the fellowship, but mostly to the memories. I imagine the day was equally as delightful 65 years ago when the Plaque for Peace was placed by Denver Rotarians atop Mt. Evans. This gorgeous day in July was spearheaded by Mountain Foothills Rotarian Wil Swart, to re-dedicate the monument, to bring about a new awareness, and bring together Rotarians to enjoy its greatness. And that he did!

Rotarians from all over Colorado gathered to hear Mr. Swart’s remarks along with Past District Governor (PDG), Norris Hermsmeyer’s rededication, and the music accompaniment of “The Original Cow Boy Band*.” Particular mention of a special attendee on this day, revered Rotarian, PDG Loy Dickinson, along with a family that he has been hosting from Czechoslovakia. A family that assisted him when his plane went down during WWII – one can only imagine the impact and memories this day presented for all of them.

Past District Governor Norris Hermsmeyer’s remarks were appropriately monumental in scope and are reprinted below for your enjoyment. A special thanks to Wil Swart for his efforts in bringing this important piece of Rotary Global History to our attention.

PDG Norris Hermsmeyer’s remarks:

“Many of the comments here today come from the book, “A Century of Service,” by Daniel C. Forward, a book created to mark Rotary’s 100th anniversary. Other parts of these comments came from articles posted on the Rotary 100 history website.

“One of the things that appeals to me about Rotary is how it continues to evolve. Founded in 1905, the case might be made that it was a club for one guy to get known in his community and looking for a fellowship of professional men. The case could also be made that Rotary was to be a “leads” club, men of different professions dealing with each other based on a mutual respect and common business ethic.

“Shortly after the organizations founding, a new focus was found, that of serving the community as volunteers in ways that were appropriate for and to that community. Rotary’s motto then as it is today, is “Service Above Self.”

“Peace was certainly not considered to be a role for Rotary in the early organizational days.
“During the period of 1912 through World War 1, the idea that Rotary was or might be a medium for the promotion of international peace and good will was voiced many times by many clubs and individual Rotarians around the world. Many of these same individuals and clubs would take action as they saw fit within their own groups.

“In 1920, when Rotary International met in Atlanta, the idea that peace and good will might become a standard of Rotary was first expressed. In 1921, Rotary met in Edinburgh, Scotland. Many of the 2523 attendees had lost friends and family in the WWI conflict. They were weary witnesses to the need for world Peace.

“Just 16 years after Rotary began, it became an organization with the worthy objective to “aid in the advancement of international peace and goodwill through a fellowship of business and professional men (and now women) of all nations united in the Rotary ideal of service.” “Rotary has approached peacemaking systematically—it has sought to breakdown the barriers that cause people to point fingers at one another. By trying to understand people’s points of view and reaching across lines of race, religion and culture to become partners in service to all mankind, tensions are reduced and friendships increased. Humanitarian aid has been Rotary’s answer to hunger, sickness, illiteracy and economic disaster, the seeds of conflict.

“Over the years, RI Boards and clubs have laid out policies and programs of how Rotarians can contribute to the peacemaking role.

“President Warren G. Harding (a Rotarian until his election to office) in 1923 said, “If I could plant Rotary in every community in the world, I would do it, and then I would guarantee the tranquility and forward march of the world.” “One of the initiatives in the period between WWI and WWII was the creation of the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park on the border between the U.S. and Canada.

“The Rotary Peace marker in this park at the point where the Continental Divide in the U.S. meets the point marking the origin of the Continental Divide in Canada is significant to us today for two reasons.

– A prime motivator of that memorial was Thomas Davis, the RI President from Butte, Montana who would serve in 1940-41. We shall hear more about him in a minute.

– One of the ongoing projects of this District of Rotary, spearheaded by PDG Mat Matson of Conifer Rotary is the development and maintenance of the Continental Divide Trail running 3100 miles from Canada to Mexico. Indeed it is his hope to create a Peace Memorial marker at the end of the Continental Divide when it meets the Mexican border. It may be a little difficult to define that point given the relative flat land of New Mexico at that point.

“With the “Winds of War” again threatening, the RI convention in 1940 was held in Havana, Cuba. The 3700 delegates to that gathering adopted a resolution calling for “freedom, justice, truth, sanctity of the pledged word and respect for human rights.” Fast forward to 1948 when the newly chartered United Nations wrote the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, based on the framework of this same RI resolution adopted in 1940.

“The 1941 Rotary convention was in Denver with 8900 in attendance, 90% of the Rotarians from the U.S. and the balance from other parts of the Western Hemisphere. The dilemma was that many Rotarians around the world were at war, or soon would be. “The Peace Memorial we see before us today was to have been dedicated by the 1940-41 RI President Armando de Arruda Pereira of Sao Paulo, Brazil, but inclement weather made the dedication impossible.

“Perhaps, fortuitously, the RI President who would serve for the Rotary year 1941-42, Thomas Davis (remember him from the Peace Memorial on the Canadian border) of Butte, Montana was able to return to Colorado for the formal dedication.

The Event was carefully monitored by the natives “In his address to the Denver convention, President David knowing what was facing the world stated, “You and I know Rotary’s limitations—but we also know its capacities. We know we can do something. With a world full of reasons for pessimism, I am not pessimistic. For my faith in the ultimate triumph of goodness and kindliness is as deep as my faith in a power infinitely greater than man’s. Yet in that faith I find no excuse, no reason for resignation.”

“It is not surprising that the theme for RI President Davis’s year was “Peace will Come.” We know Rotarians worldwide worked toward that end, just as following the war so many Rotarians were instrumental in the creation of the United Nations, an organization dedicated to bringing men and countries together to end peace and strife in the world.

“Before you, you see a memorial built of active rock, part of a wall, at an elevation of over fourteen thousand feet with a mountain view finder. The finder or finger is of bronze placed on a circular plate of bronze 14 ˝ inches in diameter. The finger is moveable upon the circular plate upon which radiates lines to identify mountains and other points of interest.

“Below that are certain inscriptions denoting Rotary’s objectives, including the one passed at the 1921 Rotary International Convention identifying the “advancement of international understanding, good will and peace through a fellowship of business and professional mean called in the ideal of service.”

*Mr. Swart was instrumental in reconstituting this infamous band that’s roots began in 1878 in Dodge City, Kansas where Will was a former resident. The band “disbanded” in 1890 and the equipment sold to a Pueblo, Colo. resident; who proceeded to reestablish the band in Idaho Springs in 1905. The band was a huge success through the boom mining days and while no one knows when it again was dispersed, it is again alive and well thanks to Will’s reconstitution of the band last year. One hundred years later and also in celebration of Rotary’s Centennial, “The Original Cow Boy Band” is hooting and tooting once again.

Provided by RGHF Founding Member PDG Eddie Blender

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