‘No need for all these weapons’: Kids learn history of peace symbol

By Bill O’Boyle - [email protected]
Margaret Elmir, 11, answers questions about the peace sign Tuesday during the ongoing Peace Camp at First Presbyterian Church in Wilkes-Barre. Campers learned about the history and origin of the ubiquitous peace symbol. - Aimee Dilger | Times Leader
Camryn Deiter, 10, reacts to presenter Elly Miller during Tuesday’s Peace Camp in Wilkes-Barre. Campers learned the history and meaning of the peace symbol. - Aimee Dilger | Times Leader
Sophie Kurbanov, 10, at bottom left, Sarah Park, 11, Tural Saliminal, 9, and Margaret Elmir, 11, make peace sign posters Tuesday at Peace Camp. - Aimee Dilger | Times Leader
Presenter Elly Miller discusses the peace symbol Tuesday during Peace Camp at First Presbyterian Church in Wilkes-Barre. - - Aimee Dilger | Times Leader

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.

Margaret Elmir, 11, answers questions about the peace sign Tuesday during the ongoing Peace Camp at First Presbyterian Church in Wilkes-Barre. Campers learned about the history and origin of the ubiquitous peace symbol.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/web1_TTL080118peace1-1.jpgMargaret Elmir, 11, answers questions about the peace sign Tuesday during the ongoing Peace Camp at First Presbyterian Church in Wilkes-Barre. Campers learned about the history and origin of the ubiquitous peace symbol. Aimee Dilger | Times Leader

Camryn Deiter, 10, reacts to presenter Elly Miller during Tuesday’s Peace Camp in Wilkes-Barre. Campers learned the history and meaning of the peace symbol.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/web1_TTL080118peace2-1.jpgCamryn Deiter, 10, reacts to presenter Elly Miller during Tuesday’s Peace Camp in Wilkes-Barre. Campers learned the history and meaning of the peace symbol. Aimee Dilger | Times Leader

Sophie Kurbanov, 10, at bottom left, Sarah Park, 11, Tural Saliminal, 9, and Margaret Elmir, 11, make peace sign posters Tuesday at Peace Camp.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/web1_TTL080118peace4-1.jpgSophie Kurbanov, 10, at bottom left, Sarah Park, 11, Tural Saliminal, 9, and Margaret Elmir, 11, make peace sign posters Tuesday at Peace Camp. Aimee Dilger | Times Leader

Presenter Elly Miller discusses the peace symbol Tuesday during Peace Camp at First Presbyterian Church in Wilkes-Barre.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/web1_TTL080118peace3-1.jpgPresenter Elly Miller discusses the peace symbol Tuesday during Peace Camp at First Presbyterian Church in Wilkes-Barre. Aimee Dilger | Times Leader
Campers learn history, meaning of peace symbol

By Bill O’Boyle

[email protected]

Peace Camp Participants

Emilia Figliolini, Mia Rose Teixeira, Luna Vera Rosetta Torres, Olivia Koelling, Mia Adelstein, Phoebe Doty, Gwendolyn Doty, Guinevere McCurdy, Isabelle Figliolini, Elijah Koelling, Camryn Dieter, Tural Salmanli, Seeta Alsadun, Sarah Park, Amoy Myers, Margaret Elmir, Lilliana Decker Calanzaril, Sophie Kurbanov, Xavier Tereska, youth volunteers Keora Terzaghi and Eowynn Bogdon.

Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.

Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.