I HAVE seen this oval structure with steps around it leading to a large slab of cement from a distance hundreds of times in the last four years that I have been here, but have never really paid attention to this particular ‘island’ located at American Memorial Park until one day a couple of months back when I was left with an hour to spare.
I can say a butterfly I was trying to capture on camera brought me to the Peace Island. I have always thought that the cemented structure bordered with the traditional latte stones around is another tribute to something that happened during the World War 2 but upon closer inspection, the Rotary International logo above a flying bird symbolizing peace met my eyes.
Unlike regular islands that are usually surrounded by a body of water, the Rotary Peace Island is surrounded by flowers and greenery.
The towering monument states that the CNMI was declared as a Peace Rotary Island in 2000.
Browsing through the internet later, I learned that Saipan Island was declared a Rotary Peace Community after having been sponsored by Rotary Club Saipan, District 2750 and initiated by Saipan Rotary Club past president Glen V. Perez.
Members of the Rotary Club of Saipan unveiled the Rotary Peace Monument at the American Memorial Park as part of the group’s effort to promote peace and understanding around the world on November 17, 2000.
I also learned that the Peace Monument is just among other Rotary peace and friendship monuments erected in other parts of the world such as Spain, Berkeley, California in North America, Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park in US/Canada, Indiana, Georgia, Los Angeles, Colorado, Yukon Canada, Vancouver, Mexico, Uruguay, Australia, India, Japan, and other countries. Check this site for other peace and friendship monuments: http://www.rotaryfirst100.org/library/monuments/.
Like thousands of other people living here, I drive by the place every day or stop at American Memorial Park every now and then but have never really paid attention to this landmark or what it stands for.
It’s funny because you may have been here for years and taken everything for granted, but try to take a closer look around you. You might discover something that has always been there but you might have never known what that is. This small island is indeed full of treasures.