“Peace Rock”

By Dick Bennett

Hank Kaminsky’s “Peace Rock” (1998) adds thoughtfulness to the hillside back yard of the residence of James Richard (Dick) Bennett. The sculpture honors all peacemakers by naming thirty United States peacemakers. The sculpture --17 inches wide, 40 inches long, and 19 inches tall—is eloquent in its function. In bold raised letters at the top the sculpture spells out PEACE, while the names of the peacemakers, also in raised letters, surround the sides.

Four features of the sculpture deserve special comment. First, it is shaped and colored dark brown to appear from a distance as a large stone, to suggest solidity, durability, and strength. Second, the Peace Rock suggests a connection between peace and the evolving earth and humankind. Third, the letters of PEACE are designed to contain soil for growing moss and ferns, to suggest the connection between the ideal of peace and the tranquillity of plants, in contrast to the machines of death—machine guns, planes, nuclear bombs. The quest is for peace not only among humans but between the human-made technosphere and the natural ecosphere. Among the planet’s greatest problems—perpetual wars, nationalism, imperialism, hunger and malnutrition, the global war between the rich and the poor, nuclear holocaust--ecological destruction surely ranks high in urgency. Fourth, the names of the peacemakers are not always immediately discernible because, in contrast to the Vietnam Memorial Wall’s incised clarity for quick identification, the sculptor wished to involve viewers in the peacemaker’s search for peace. The incompleteness of the names Thoreau and Rukeyser share the subsidence of the letter E, to suggest the perpetual danger of the collapse of peace into war. Yet one might imagine that the peacemakers are holding PEACE together.

All of the names are inscribed horizontally to suggest time and the equality of these peacemakers in time, who are placed in random order up and down, left and right. The sculpture rests in a setting of flowers, shrubs, and trees created by Dick, Leonard Schulte, and, most recently, Suzie Jones. In his “Essay in Praise of Gardens,” Francis Bacon declared a garden to be “the Greatest Refreshment to the Spirits of Man.” The statue can be seen on eye-level from the residence’s deck at a distance of 30 feet with the garden behind and to left and right.

The United States is a war-making nation. It has fought a dozen wars since 1941, most of them not defensive. (Despite its name-change, the Department of Defense remains the old Department of War.) It has invaded a dozen countries during the second half of this century, in violation of international conventions and treaties, illegal acts of aggression against sovereign nations which opposed us, were defined as “enemies,” expressed a different ideology, or simply stood in our way to some national goal (Guatemala, Dominican Republic, Libya, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Cuba, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Grenada, Panama, Iraq). The United States glorifies war; ceremonies and symbols and monuments of warriors pervade national life; and terrorism comes always some from some other nation or group. From childhood, we are conditioned to accept aggression and war and the violence essential to war-making.

Many methods exist for diminishing nationalistic, conditioned aggression. One is to increase the ethos of peace and of peacemaker models for our youth by building memorials to peacemakers in peaceful and beautiful landscapes. Our children know the names of our warriors, who are celebrated in countless ways. They do not know the names of our peacemakers. So we must begin at our homes to instill the values of beauty, peace, and just law by celebrating the peacemakers by naming them. Just as citizens have always expressed their patriotism by erecting a flag in their yard, or by setting aside a place in their home to remember loved ones who served or were killed in war—the home as a war memorial, privately reinforcing the legitimacy of the war-making nation---we can also transform our homes into peace memorials, to honor those who sacrificed for peace and imagined a peacemaking nation.

John Ruskin in The Seven Lamps of Architecture argued that architecture, as the art of edifices that contributes to our “mental health, power, and pleasure,” is an index of a nation’s values. Throughout our history, warriors have appropriated this domain of public good. But a counter-movement is rising of beautiful monuments dedicated to peace, especially in landscaped places. We must know and remember peacemakers, not warmakers and killers, if we are to have peace. The plastic arts and literature provide us with memory. Ruskin: “It is well to have, not only what men have thought and felt, but what their hands have handled, and their strength wrought, and their eyes beheld, all the days of their life.”

This sculpture is a measure of our culture’s struggle with violence. In conception, design, and execution, it offers “health, power, and pleasure.” And it benefits from the spiritual and sensory power of the landscape, both of which are to be discovered by the inquiring visitor. In contrast to the immensely successful conditioning of soldiers to kill by the U. S. Army, and the apparently successful conditioning of the population to be violent by our culture—films, television, computer games---sculpture and place invite non-violent reflection and behavior.

It is hoped that this private place for peace will inspire the creation of more private peace memorials, and lead outward to more public peace memorials. We should strive to create not only private places of peace, but also to create peace parks and gardens and sculptures in our towns, cities, and countryside, if we are ever to evolve into a nation and world dedicated to peaceful rather than Pentagon values.

Biographies of all of the peacemakers named on Kaminsky’s sculpture (except for one) may be found in books by Michael True: Justice-Seekers, Peacemakers: 32 Portraits in Courage (1985) and To Construct Peace: 30 More Justice Seekers and Peace Makers (1990). True has also written An Energy Field More Intense Than War: the Nonviolent Tradition and American Literature (1995).

Hank Kaminsky was born April 3, 1939. He is married to Jo Ann Burton Kaminsky and has two sons, Jesse and Daniel. He was educated at Queens College (Flushing, NY), the Art Students League, the New School for Social Research, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and the University of Arkansas. Some of his sculptures are: “The Miracle of the Double Helix,” University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock; Door Handles for KFSM-TV, Fayetteville and Fort Smith; “Business for the Arts,” Chamber of Commerce, Fayetteville; Set of Communion Vessels and Candle Fixtures for the First United Presbyterian Church, Fayetteville; “Islands in the Sea” for Temple Shalom, Fayetteville; “Yahrzeit” for Temple B’nai Israel, Little Rock; and “Eternal Light” and “Burning Bush” for Eisendrath Memorial Chapel, Kresgeville, PA. His works have been shown widely—in New York City, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, Birmingham, AL, and throughout Arkansas. He has taught widely from Dallas to New York City to Branson, including the position of Adjunct Assistant Professor of Art, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville

Recommended reading:

Commoner, Barry. Making Peace with the Planet. New York: Pantheon, 1990.
Gay, Peter. The Cultivation of Hatred. Vol. III of The Bourgeois Experience: Victoria to Freud. New York: Norton, 1993.
Grossman, Dave, Lt. Col. On Killing: the Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society. Boston: Little, Brown, 1997.
Hanh, Thich Nhat. Peace Is Every Step: the Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life. New York: Bantam, 1991.
McKean, John. Places for Peace. London: Architects for Peace, 1989.
Mosse, George. Fallen Soldiers. Reshaping the Memory of the World Wars New York: Oxford UP, 1990.
Winter, Jay. Sites of memory, sites of mourning: The Great War in European Cultural History. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1995.

The [thirty] Peacemakers celebrated on the sculpture, all from the United States, are:

Jane Addams (1860-1935), co-founded the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, opposed U.S. entering WWI, “one of the great leaders in the American tradition of nonviolence.”

Joan Baez (1941-), human rights activist, jailed twice for demonstrating against the Vietnam War and U.S. interventions in Southeast Asia, supported war tax resistance and political prisoners.

Adin Ballou (1803-1890), founded the Hopedale Community utopian experiment, significant adherent of Christian non-resistance and nonviolence, influenced Tolstoy and Gandhi.

Daniel & Philip Berrigan (1921-) (1923-), leaders of the Catholic non-violent anti-war and anti-nuclear movement, both often imprisoned. Philip and his wife, Elizabeth McAlister, founded the resistance center, Jonah House, and the publication, Year One, and have been active in Plowshares actions. Daniel has won many literary prizes for his poetry and play, The Trial of the Catonsville Nine.

Elise & Kenneth Boulding (1920-) (1910-1993), founders of the International Peace Research Association (IPRA) and its North American Affiliate, the Consortium on Peace Research, Education, and Development (COPRED), he authored Stable Peace, she Building a Global Civil Culture.

Randolph Bourne (1886-1918), socialist, fervent opponent of U.S. intervention in WWI and the war-making state.

Elihu Burritt (1810-1879), founded the first International Peace Society (1854), edited the Advocate of Peace and Universal Brotherhood for the American Peace Society which anticipated the League of Nations and the World Court.

César Chávez (1917-1993), with Dolores Huerta co-founded the United Farm Workers, both committed to nonviolence.

Noam Chomsky (1928-), anarchist and socialist opponent of U.S. imperialism and the military/industrial/media/university complex of war-making.

Maura Clarke (1931-1980), member of the Maryknoll order, friend to victims of repressive governments, murdered by the El Salvadoran military.

Frances Crowe (1919-), Quaker, anti-war (Vietnam) and anti-nuclear activist, anti-draft counselor, prisoner, recipient of awards from Catholic, Protestant, and other groups.

Dorothy Day (1897-1980), Catholic, war-resister, defender of the poor, civil-disobedient, writer, founder (1933) of The Catholic Worker, “the most remarkable person in the history of American Catholicism.”

Eugene Debs (1855-1926), five times the Socialist Party’s nominee for president of the U.S., imprisoned for opposing WW-I, defender of the poor, co-founder of the IWW.

David Dellinger (1915-), imprisoned for conscientious objection during WW-II, edited Liberation after the war, a journal of radical pacifism, co-chair of the New Mobilization committee to end the war in Vietnam, one of the Chicago 8.

Elizabeth Gurley Flynn (1890-1964), communist, chair of International Labor Defense, co-founder of the ACLU, victim of Red Scares of 1919 and McCarthyism, imprisoned 1955-57: she was the “rebel girl” of Joe Hill’s song.

Allen Ginsberg (1925-1997), poet, opposed the Vietnam War (the only person on the sculpture not in either of True’s books; a favorite peacemaker of the sculptor).

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968), Baptist minister, advocate of non-violence, writer, orator, leader of Civil Rights Movement 1950s-1960s, opponent of Vietnam War, prisoner.

Kathy Knight (1938-), a leader of Catholic non-violent peace movement against the Vietnam War.

Meridel LeSueur (1900-1997), writer, socialist, blacklisted during McCarthy era, opponent of nuclear weapons, feminist.

Denise Levertov (1923-1997) opposed the Vietnam War and wrote numerous poems on war and violence.

Mennonites, one of the three historic peace churches (with Quakers and Brethren), oppose war and killing as contrary to the gospel.

Thomas Merton (1915-1968), Trappist monk, urged nonviolent social change among Catholics, edited Breakthrough to Peace and Thomas Merton on Peace.

Quakers, the Society of Friends, one of the three historic peace churches, helped develop principle of conscientious objection, committed to nonviolence.

Muriel Rukeyser (1913-1980), prize-winning poet, imprisoned for opposing Vietnam War draft and nuclear arms, as president of PEN (international organization of poets, essays, and novelists) traveled the world to protect imprisoned writers.

Mulford Sibley (1912-1989), teacher, writer (The Quiet Battle, 1968, The Obligation to Disobey, 1970), war resister, pacifist.

William Stafford (1914-1993), imprisoned in Arkansas for conscientious objection to WWII, became an award-winning writer and lifetime war resister.

Lucy Stone (1818-1893), abolitionist and women’s rights activist.

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), jailed for “civil disobedient” tax resistance against the U.S. invasion of Mexico (1846), author of “Civil Disobedience,” one of the most influential critics of unjust state violence.

Annabel Wolfson (1915-1983) opposed war, conscription, imperialism.

Howard Zinn (1922-), historian (SNCC: The New Abolitionists, 1964, A People’s History of the United States, 1980), war protester.

True discusses many other peacemakers in his two books. For example, he says of Ammon Hennacy (1893-1970): “the one man revolution,” draft resister who served many years in prison during WWI; arrested 32 times for civil disobedience against nuclear weapons, war, and capital punishment.

Prof. James Richard (Dick) Bennett is Professor of English Emeritus, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville (Arkansas), founder of Omni Center for Peace, Justice & Ecology (OMNI), and author of the following works:

"Centers, Museums, and Public Memorials for Nonviolent Peacemaking in the US: A Visitors' Guide," PeaceWork Magazine, American Friends Service Committee, Philadelphia (Pennsylvania), May 1999. Click here for on-line text.

"Peace movement directory: North American organizations programs, museums and memorials," McFarland & Co., Jefferson (North Carolina), 2001, pp. 310. Covers peace organizations, colleges, museums, journals, libraries, and memorials in the USA, Canada & Mexico & at the UN in New York City. Click here for more information.