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Rotary Club to dedicate peace pole in park

The Noon Rotary Club is dedicating a peace pole in the Essentia Health-Rotary Park located between St. Mary’s and The Winchester along Washington Avenue. The peace pole, which was gifted from Ed Gehrke, right, and his One Heart One Mind organization from when he traveled to Japan, will be filled with notes of peace and gratitude before being permanently placed in the park. Submitted Photo

May peace prevail on Earth.

It’s a message being spread around the world and one coming to the Essentia Health-Rotary Park in the form of a peace pole.

Years ago, Noon Rotary member Ed Gehrke received some peace poles directly from Japan to be used to spread the word of peace throughout this area through his One Heart, One Mind organization.

“I had been to Japan and worked with them there,” he said.

The peace poles originated in Japan, Noon Rotary President Dave Karsnia said, because the Japanese people wanted the world to “see Japan as a peaceful country rather than the instigator of World War II.”

Fast forward to present day, and for the Rotary Club’s 90th anniversary, the international president of Rotary, Sakuji Tanaka, asked that the Rotary Club consider dedicating a peace pole in the area.

“It’s about promoting the idea of peace in the community,” Karsnia said.

The request seemed to just fall into place with the fact that Gehrke still had a peace pole left from Japan. He gifted the peace pole to the Rotary Club and the club decided to “refurbish and reinvigorate the Essentia Health-Rotary Park” and locate the pole there, Karsnia said.

The park is located across Washington Avenue from Holy Rosary Church between the Essentia Health emergency department and The Winchester. There are a couple benches there for resting and a small gazebo. Now there will be a peace pole there as well.

“The significance is that Detroit Lakes is a part of the greater world,” Karsnia said. “A peace pole reminds everybody that a lot can be accomplished and it starts right here in the local community.”

Though Rotary helps out worldwide with ending polio, TeacHaiti and eye care missions, there is a need for peace even at home, he said.

There are 200,000 peace poles worldwide, and they have been translated into 300 different languages.

One thing unique about this peace pole, since it is one of those from Japan, it is made of plastic and hollow inside. The peace poles that have been made in the United States are wooden, like the traveling one that was dedicated at the Holmes Theatre in 2003. One was also dedicated at Itasca State Park in 1996 at the start of the Mississippi River.

Since this one is hollow, anyone with prayers, gratitudes, expressions of peace, etc. can write them on a piece of paper and they will be rolled up and put into the pole, which will then be cemented into place in the park.

The public wishing to have a note of peace put into the peace pole can drop them off at the David-Donehower Funeral Home by Thursday, when they will be folded and placed in the peace pole to have it ready for the dedication ceremony.

The dedication ceremony will be Thursday, May 16, at 12:10 p.m. Both of the Rotary clubs will be participating, the district governor will be there, and Mayor Matt Brenk will be as well.

The public is invited to attend the ceremony. It will be short so those with a lunch hour can attend.

For more information on the world peace movement, visit

Follow Pippi Mayfield on Twitter at @PippiMayfield.