With public discourse increasingly consumed by sour and selfish exchanges among one-time friends and neighbors, local Rotarians are promoting a détente beginning at the grassroots level.
In keeping with that goal, Foxboro Rotary will be hosting a “Peace Day” celebration, on Sunday, Sept. 19, beginning at 2 p.m. on the Common.
Appearing before selectmen this week, Rotary President Kay Andberg said she hoped the inaugural event could serve as a much-needed antidote in helping counter growing unrest and polarization which has affected civic affairs at all levels.
“Our hope and understanding is people realize that by treating each other with kindness and respect there will be more peace in our community,” she said. “We really believe that peace is possible, one community at a time.”
Andberg told selectmen the event is envisioned as a multi-cultural celebration for all ages featuring a multi-generational interpretive contest with participants expressing what peace means to them. Activity stations, children’s crafts and musical performances also will be featured.
Contest entries are open to essays (limited to 250 words), poetry, videos (limited to 3-1/2 minutes) or artworks. The deadline for submitting contest entries is Sept. 10. Winners will be invited to present their submissions at the Common on Sept. 19.
As part of the observance, Andberg asked board members for permission to erect a temporary “peace pole” to serve as a reminder of the need to promote understanding, at a prominent location to be determined. A second peace pole will be erected at the Foxboro YMCA, she explained.
“Everybody needs a little bit of calmness in their lives,” she said.
In addition, townspeople attending the event will be asked to sign a “peace pledge,” symbolizing a personal commitment to act with compassion, kindness and empathy, to offer a positive perspective, and to set an example for family members and others.
Those not attending the event will be able to add their names to the pledge by visiting the Rotary website at www.FoxboroRotary.org.
Selectmen Chairwoman Leah Gibson encouraged fellow board members to sign the pledge in support of the project.
“I actually think it’s a great idea for us to endorse this,” Gibson said.
For details about the contest, or the broader Peace Day event, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition to the Peace Day gathering, selectmen also gave the green light to a number of community events to be held in upcoming weeks.
These include, on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 17-18, Foxboro’s 10th annual 24-hour POW/MIA vigil; and on Saturday, Sept. 25, the 31st annual Rodman Ride for Kids bicycle fundraiser.
According to Ally Rodriguez, the town’s director of veteran’s services, the overnight POW/MIA vigil aims to remember and honor those who were prisoners of war and those still missing in action, as well as their families.
The low-key observance, typically held the third weekend of September, coincides with other POW/MIA recognition day events held across the country.
Rodriguez urged townspeople to stop by the Common, even if only for a short time, as a show of support.
Held as a “virtual” event last year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s Rodman Ride will be limited to 500 entrants participating in either 25- or 50-mile routes, with the 50-mile start at 9 a.m. and the 25-mile start at 10:30 a.m.
The fundraiser, which has raised $145 million for a number of youth-related programs since its founding in 1991, will be followed at 11:30 a.m. by a barbecue at the Ride for Kids headquarters on Lincoln Road.
Selectmen this week granted a permit allowing organizers to serve beer at the post-ride barbecue, with Chairwoman Leah Gibson terming it a “well respected event in town.”
Also scheduled, for Saturday, Sept. 11, is the Foxboro Clean-Up Day event. Details will be available in next week’s Foxboro Reporter.