WILKES-BARRE — Sophie Kurbanov busily worked on her personal peace symbol poster that she intends to hang on her bedroom wall.
Kurbanov, 10, is one of 20 children attending this week’s Peace Camp at the First Presbyterian Church in Wilkes-Barre. On Tuesday, Elly Miller, a retired school teacher and member of the Peace and Justice Center, gave a presentation on the origin and history of the peace symbol. When Miller was done, she handed out posters and stickers to the kids to have them create their own personal peace symbol poster.
Kurbanov was almost done with hers when she was asked why it was important for the class to learn about the peace symbol.
“It’s important because it represents that there should be peace around the world,” she said. “There’s no need for all these weapons. The world would be a much better, safer place without them.”
Kurbanov said she is sick of seeing all of the hatred and fighting in the world. Asked if she might one day run for president, her response was quick.
“Well, I’m still young, so I have a lot of time to think about that,” Kurbanov said. “But if I was president, I would want the world to be a peaceful place.”
We will have to keep an eye on Kurbanov over the next three decades or so.
Becky Elfman, co-director of the Peace Camp for Kids along with Rhonda Lambert, said the week-long camp brings together campers and volunteer staff from different faiths, traditions, and ethnic and cultural backgrounds for a week of fun and sharing that will foster respect and create a community that supports each other.
Miller said her goal was to teach the children about the origin and symbolism of the peace symbol, which is 60 years old this year.
Miller said the peace sign was used widely in the 1960s. It was originally designed in 1958 by Gerald Holtom, a design student and activist from England to promote Peace and Nuclear Disarmament. The artist superimposed the semaphore letters “N” (Nuclear) and “D” (Disarmament) over each other to create the image. They are enclosed in a circle that represents the earth/world.
“The peace symbol, which consists of three simple lines within a circle, was unveiled at a British ‘ban-the-bomb’ rally on April 4, 1958, as an emblem of the anti-Vietnam War movement and became a symbol for all things that were groovy and counterculture,” Miller said. “The symbol has been observed in service of many causes over the years, including civil rights, women’s rights, environmentalism, gay rights, anti-apartheid, and the nuclear-freeze movement, to name a few.”
Miller said no matter where you are in the world, the peace sign can be seen more than ever on everything from clothing to jewelry and it continues to be viewed today with increased hope for world peace. Miller first got interested in the peace symbol after college when she wanted to join the Peace Corps.
After the presentation and poster-making, Miller had the children pull ribbons from a peace symbol pinata. When they did, each received a $1 bill from Miller to help them remember the day.
Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.