History of the Peace Pole: A Visit to the GDR Embassy School & Mark McCormick and the Peace Pole

A Visit to the GDR Embassy School

This visit resulted in an invitation from Ambassador Herder to visit their Embassy School in Washington, DC.  That visit took place on October 26, 1987.

This was indeed a new experience for the Kids for Peace students, but their excitement overcame my anxieties about proper behavior at a foreign embassy in Washington, and the East German children soon won the hearts and minds of MFS students.

After a lunch prepared for us, the children presented each of the MFS students with a blue scarf identical to the ones they were wearing.

This experience resulted in many conversations among the Kids for Peace, centered on many issues, such as differences in political views about the GDR, reasons for negative opinions about Communism, and why some people consider them enemies.  Education is accomplished by a variety of means and these children were indeed learning and growing.

9Mark McCormick and the Peace Pole

As a result of publicity about these exchanges, the World Press Review picked up on the Neues Deutschland article and excerpted a portion for their April 1987 edition.  It was this article, I surmise, that brought about another facet of the story.

In the months ahead, the students of Kids for Peace continued to meet and plan activities, their enthusiasm growing day by day.  Then one day, a mysterious package arrived at the school, addressed to Miriam Feyerherm and Kids for Peace.  It was a Peace Pole, a four-sided cedar pole with the words “May Peace Prevail on Earth” on each of the four sides, each side in a different language.  It was not immediately clear who sent the pole but we soon discovered that the donor was Mark McCormick, a New York philanthropist who had embarked on a project to send Peace Poles to people and organizations that were promoting peace.  He had evidently read about Kids for Peace, perhaps in the World Press Review.  Whatever his source, he had aptly chosen the languages of our pole: German, Russian, English and Japanese.

The students immediately began to plan.  Where could the Peace Pole be planted?  Shouldn’t we have a dedication? Who should we invite? Many other discussions followed.

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