Garden dedication celebrates 200 years of friendship, peace
June 21, 2012
SACKETS HARBOR, N.Y. -- Local citizens, village representatives and tourists gathered Saturday for the dedication of the War of 1812 Bicentennial Peace Garden, which took place outside the Great Lakes Seaway Trail Discovery Center on West Main Street.
The Peace Garden dedication is one of several events that will take place throughout the Great Lakes region to celebrate 200 years of peace and longstanding friendship between Canada and the United States. Since the War of 1812, the two countries have shared the world's longest undefended border.
"The Peace Garden is designed to attract international visitors as well as the residents of this historic region to experience and enjoy the natural beauty that a garden provides," said Sackets Harbor Mayor Eric Constance. "A lot of time and effort by volunteers went into creating this particular garden."
The mayor introduced Kelly Reinhardt, a Sackets Harbor Tree Committee chairwoman who was instrumental in developing the garden.
"We designed it to complement the (existing) Main Street gardens," Reinhardt said. "We made it a little bit different so there is a section that is the actual peace garden."
"I am really proud of this garden, and I am proud of my family for helping," she added.
Paula Savage, founder and director of the International Peace Garden Foundation, said she was delighted to participate in the garden dedication and this celebration of peace.
As a gesture of friendship, Canada presented the first International Peace Garden to the U.S. in 1990.
"We (the foundation) were established to foster peaceful ties between nations, and the gardens are a tangible symbol of this friendship," Savage said. "International peace gardens now span five continents, and annually a new country is nominated by the previous recipient country."
Savage continued with a brief background of the Bicentennial Peace Garden Trail and how the idea developed.
"With the bicentennial approaching, the Arts Council of Buffalo (and Erie County) was aware of the foundation and our origins being linked to the War of 1812," she explained. "They invited us to become the theme for an idea they were developing in the Niagara region to commemorate the bicentennial.
"Originally, the idea was to develop three or four peace gardens in communities along the Niagara River, on both sides of the border," she continued. "That was four years ago, and the International Peace Garden Foundation saw the enormous potential in expanding this idea to include all areas that had historic significance connected to the War of 1812 and to make these gardens a permanent trail."
Savage said the Peace Garden represents more than a place of beauty.
"These gardens are not simply a place to meander and enjoy the fragrance of the flowers; their real meaning goes way beyond that," she said. "We hope through the gardens we can address issues of environmental appreciation, foster partnerships, provide a gathering place, and promote community pride and volunteerism.
"(The gardens) promote general wellness and give back to the community as a tourism attraction. They boost economic development -- not to mention the educational value in which they are a model for the community youth -- and offer a meaningful learning experience. The benefits are boundless," she concluded.
After the proclamation was read, Constance offered a few parting words.
In closing, I would like to say the peace garden was dedicated today to all who serve in the U.S. armed forces," he said. "It's a living monument and a gathering place. It's to honor and remember our heroes. It is a symbol of peace, it's a garden of hope and it's an international sharing of friendship.
"I want to thank you one and all for attending; and I want to thank the many volunteers it takes to put this together and who help throughout the village all year round," Constance added. "It's a great place to live and I certainly want to thank our Canadian friends for enjoying this with us. We are truly humbled by your dedication."