The benevolent people of the Garden of Peace in Moissac

Who then can be the benevolent people of the garden of peace?

It has now been several weeks since we organised the inauguration of the Peace Garden in Moissac, and an astonishing thing happens repeatedly: one or more people pick up the stones that have fallen to the ground, and continuously put the garden back on its feet. A beautiful gesture of peace which touches us particularly, a lesson in citizenship, but above all a beautiful moral. Let them not hesitate to express themselves, because they deserve a big thank you!

Sentinels of Peace in Ishigaki (Japan)

In November 2019, on the occasion of a trip to the island of Ishigaki in Okinawa prefecture, Jean-Jacques and Marie-France SIRY, members of the board of the association « Sentinelles de la Paix » were able to meet Mr. Yasuyuki Hazama, director of the Division of Civic Cooperation for Peace, accompanied by two staff members.

In November 2019, on the occasion of a trip to the island of Ishigaki in Okinawa prefecture, Jean-Jacques and Marie-France SIRY, members of the board of the association « Sentinelles de la Paix » were able to meet Mr. Yasuyuki Hazama, director of the Division of Civic Cooperation for Peace, accompanied by two staff members. Ishigaki City is a member of Mayors For Peace and is home to one of the five World Peace Bells in Japan.

We were welcomed in the conference room of Ishigaki City Hall and Mr. Hazama introduced us to Ishigaki City, City of Peace and to this very important point of the city of Ishigaki and which was one of the motivations of our visit, the World Peace Bell. A Peace Bell, melted down in the hope of permanent peace in the whole world, was given to Ishigaki City in 1988. It is placed in the centre of the city in Shinei Park. A second bell, the Smile Bell, made thanks to the generosity of the people of Ishigaki, was installed the same year.  To accompany his presentation, Mr. Hazama gave us a set of documents presenting the commitment of the city of Ishigaki to peace.

Then we presented our association and our involvement through various actions in connection with the municipalities that are members of Mayors for peace, for a world free of nuclear weapons. We spoke in particular about our two recent actions in Moissac and Lasséran. We presented and handed a text to Mr. Hazama on our approach and the different symbols present in this approach, in particular those insisting on the necessary transmission of the message of the Hibakusha.

Afterwards, Mr. Hazama invited us to go to Shinei Park where he presented us with the World Peace Bell and the Smile Bell. We were also able to discover the two monumental stones on which are engraved the two Ishigaki Peace City Declaration.

Then, to our great surprise, the suspended wooden beam (Shu-moku – 手木) was installed to ring the Peace Bell and Mr Hazama invited us both to ring it. It was an extremely moving moment and we are both very honoured to have been able to make this gesture.

Then, after a last photo, Mr Hazama took us back to the town hall and we agreed to keep in touch. We took the liberty of proposing, on behalf of our association, to envisage the realisation of a Peace Sentinels action on the Shinei Park at a date to be defined. Finally, we invite you to discover the very beautiful text of Mr. Yoshitaka Nakayama, Mayor of the city of Ishigaki, written on December 10, 2018 on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the installation of the Ishigaki World Peace Bell.

Lasséran Village Peace Day

On November 11th, our association took part in the Peace Day in the commune of Lasseran in the Gers department (Occitania). For several years, under the impetus of Mr. Michel Soriano, mayor of the town, and with the active participation of elected officials, teachers and students of the school, without forgetting the inhabitants, the day of November 11th has been focused on the theme of peace in line with the commitment of the town in the network of Mayors for Peace.

This year, the day was organised around several highlights. First of all, the 150 participants left from the Peace Square in the middle of which there is an Olive Tree and all around it, plaques with all the French Nobel Peace Prize winners. Then all the participants went down, with the children in the lead waving the peace flags, for the inauguration of the Peace Garden, with a « Sentinel » area in memory of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, a space dedicated to the symbol of peace, another to the story of the birth of the Dove of Peace and the last space on the Rainbow Peace Flag. The presence of Mr Michel Cibot, General Delegate of the Mayors for Peace France and Mrs Miho Shima, Hiroshima’s ambassador to France, should be noted. We must salute the very original idea of the commune of Lasseran to have installed this garden on a hiking trail.

Then, at the war memorial, we were able to listen to four very moving texts. Then the children of the school recited a poem by Paul Éluard and interpreted the song « Nos mains (Our hands) » by Jean-Jacques Goldman.

Then after the convivial meal, we attended the screening of the film « La bombe et nous (The bomb and us) » in the presence of the film’s producer, Jean-Claude Bauduret, followed by a debate.

Looking forward already to next year’s  edition

Inauguration of the « Garden of Peace » in Moissac

On October 24th, we took part in the inauguration of the  « Garden of Peace » in the city of Moissac (Occitania). In line with the town of Moissac’s membership of the AFCDRP (French branch of Mayors for Peace), the town wished to install a « Garden of Peace » organised around an area of Stone Sentinels. The inauguration began with a speech by a member of our association followed by a message from the Mayor of Moissac. Then the participants were invited to erect the sentinels on the dedicated space with this magnificent result.

This operation continued in the presence of the participants with the opening of the exhibition « Artists for Peace ».

Film screenings and debates at Tournefeuille and Blagnac

On October 15th, we took part in a projection-debate of the cartoon « Grave of the Fireflies ( Hotaru no haka ) » at the Rex cinema in Blagnac. This session followed the projection-debate on September 14th, at the Utopia cinema in Tournefeuille with the cartoon « In This Corner of the World (Kono sekai no katasumi ni)« . Each screening was followed by a presentation of our project with the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and a debate with the audience.

We also gave to those who wished to do so a biblio-filmography entitled « To go further ». Many thanks to Pierre Dhote, a student at the IUT of Toulouse who organised these two days.

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The Sentinels at the Firmin Bouisset school – Moissac

On October 11th, our association intervened at the Firmin Bouisset school (La Mégère – Moissac) with children from 4 classes. First of all, we projected the slide show presenting the « Sentinels of Peace » and we were pleasantly surprised by the number and relevance of the remarks and questions asked by the children. Then the children were invited to set up the Sentinels using the game prepared for this purpose. These are wooden frames with a thin layer of sand on the bottom, on which the young children can erect the stones.

To prolong this action, we proposed to the children to draw messages of peace accompanied or not by a small text that we could exhibit with the works of the « Artists for Peace » during the inauguration of the peace garden of the town of Moissac.

« Living together » day in Moissac

Sentinels of Peace at the Sarlac district on 29 June 2019. As a continuation of our intervention at the horticultural school, the municipality of Moissac invited us to participate in a day of action on the theme of « Living Together » in the Sarlac district. On this occasion, we organised an operation « Sentinels of Peace » with a presentation of the approach by the members of the association and those who wished to do so could raise the stones.

We welcomed on our stand the director of the cabinet of the Prefect of Tarn-et-Garonne to whom we were able to present our association and our project with the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. A very nice buffet organised by the residents and an exhibition of personalities working or having worked for peace.

As a continuation of this day, Jacques Tribalat of the association « Moissac Métiers d’Art et Création » has given us the following short text:

Since I installed the totem pole and pebbles on the lawn of the Espace de la TOUR DES MOINES, teenagers or adults who frequent the square are attracted by a white-haired man trying to balance a few stones. The contact becomes instantaneous. Yesterday a man accompanied by his wife is laying three stones. He gets up and tells me: « I have seen my life ». Today they are two young people one after the other. They have got caught up in the game. They have raised 5 or 6 sentinels using all the stones available. Decorating with a net of small stones snaking between the sentries. But the most important thing is the symbolic, meditative character that is revealed by the action of placing these stones one on top of the other. So much so that I myself have blackened several pages (*) evoking all the symbols and links with peace. An immediate dialogue begins.

(*) Jacques Tribalat’s text can be accessed through   this link or in the « Your writings » page.

Working meeting at the horticultural college of Moissac

On Thursday 6 June 2019, Alain Mila and Jean-Jacques Siry for the association « Sentinelles de la paix » took part in a working meeting at the horticultural college of Moissac in order to set up an educational action for the 2019-2020 school year as part of our project. On this occasion, we were able to exchange with two teachers from the Horticultural High School as well as with Jacques Tribalat and Anne Jardel, who are also the leaders of this project in Moissac.

We are first of all working with the municipality as part of the peace garden project following the town’s membership of the AFCDRP, but also working with the teachers of the high school on the theme of peace and the abolition of nuclear weapons. This project could involve teachers from several disciplines. As a follow-up to this meeting, a meeting with elected representatives from the Moissac municipality is planned.

Pleasant surprise on our arrival at the Lycée. As an extension of our action in May, a small permanent garden with three Sentinels of Peace has been installed.

The Sentinels at the horticultural college of Moissac

On 21 May 2019, we organised and animated a Sentinels operation on the site of the horticultural college in the town of Moissac. Two groups of students participated. In parallel to this operation, exchanges with the teachers made it possible to discuss the possibility of an action linked to our project for the 2019-2020 school year.

The creation of a small permanent « Sentinel » garden could be envisaged, in the spirit of Japanese gardens associating mineral and vegetal elements, but also a work on the memory of the bombings with history and geography teachers. An exploratory meeting on this project is scheduled for June 6th in Moissac. Moreover, as the town of Moissac is considering joining the AFCDRP, the high school could also host seeds and seedlings from Hiroshima trees.

To be continued…

Graduation jury at the IUT Toulouse

On Thursday 16 May 2019, we attended and participated in the jury for the defence of the tutored project of the students of the IUT of Toulouse. Although the participation in the photo competition was disappointing with a very low number of participants, the students nevertheless made fruitful contacts with two cinemas in Toulouse and one in the town of Blagnac with a view to organising film screenings followed by debates on the theme of the abolition of nuclear weapons.

In addition, contacts have been made with bookshops which could at the same time organise a presentation of works on this theme. In addition, a conference could be organised at the beginning of the academic year on the IUT campus. For these various operations we can expect the participation of the AFCDRP.