Bell ringers from Japan, Canada, Idaho, California, Washington, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Michigan, Kauai, Maui, Big Island of Hawaii, and Oahu joined together on Zoom for “Ring Your Bell for Peace Day.” The event, which included interfaith musical and spoken elements before and after five minutes of bell ringing, was streamed live to Facebook courtesy of KTUH Honolulu.
The program opened with a welcome by Rene Mansho, chair of Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii’s Peace Day Committee. Then Kenji Suzuki, a past officer of the Honpa Honwanji Federation of Junior Young Buddhist Associations, sounded the Pū (conch shell), followed by Kahu Wendell Davis offering the pule (prayer/blessing). Reverend Eric Matsumoto, Bishop of the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii, offered the invocation. Current Junior YBA President Kana Suzuki then spoke briefly about the origins of Peace Day in Hawaii, followed by a screening of Ohana Arts “Peace on Your Wings Reunion” video,” invoking the story of Sadako Sasaki’s cranes for world peace.
(Ms. Melveen Leed singing the “Queen’s Prayer” was to be part of the program. We regret due to an Internet outage beyond our control, Ms. Leed was not able to participate. We appreciate her willingness to share her talent nonetheless!)
Bishop Matsumoto led participants in a minute of silence to honor all those who sacrificed for the achievement of peace. Then it was time for bell ringing! All 100 plus bell-ringing sites unmuted their microphones and, after a short countdown, rang their bells together for five minutes. The live stream video moves from site to site, providing a closeup view of bell ringers near and far.
The program continued with a video screening of the song “Let There Be Peace on Earth” recorded by the Gay Men’s Chorus of Honolulu and a benediction by Kahu Sherman Thompson. The closing program element was an oli (Hawaiian chant) by Kumu Lehua Matsuoka and Keli’i Ruth. All Zoom participants then unmuted themselves for warmly felt wishes and goodbyes in various languages.
Mahalo to all who came together to create this wonderful program to promote peace and raise awareness about the International Day of Peace and Peace Day in Hawaii. It’s an auspicious beginning of what could be a new Peace Day tradition!