The morning of 10 October 2017, local officials, former Olympians and community leaders participated in the 11th anniversary dedication of the Sri Chinmoy Street and Heart-Garden in Flushing Meadows Corona Park*, Ambassador Davidson Hepburn was the keynote speaker. His remarks appear below.
“Distinguished Guests and Dear Friends,
“I am extremely happy and honoured to be here with you today at this auspicious ceremony at the Sri Chinmoy Heart-Garden. This wonderful garden, plus the Sri Chinmoy Street, where today’s race was held, were dedicated on October 11, 2006, by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, in celebration of Sri Chinmoy’s life and his love of running, exactly one year before his passing. It has been eleven years now, and I am delighted to be here to pay tribute to my dear friend Sri Chinmoy who dedicated his life for the noble goals of world peace and oneness.
“For me, Sri Chinmoy was more than a friend; he was a lover of peace and a servant of God. He always had a glow of peace and love from deep within.
“I first met Sri Chinmoy in 1978 while serving as Ambassador of the Bahamas to the United Nations. Sri Chinmoy went to the UN twice a week starting in 1970 when Secretary-General U Thant requested him to offer silent peace prayers and meditations for delegates and staff of all faiths. The Peace Meditation at the United Nations, which Sri Chinmoy continued until his passing in 2007, gave me and many other ambassadors and UN leaders much inner peace and strength.
“Sri Chinmoy was an innovator for peace—all that he created was done with the goal of encouraging peace to grow within the hearts and lives of individuals, thereby fostering world-peace. I have been indeed privileged to take part many times in the Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home World Harmony and Peace Runs which he began in 1987. I have seen hundreds of children in my own home country of the Bahamas, in Kazakhstan and elsewhere, run with boundless joy and enthusiasm – certain that they can make a difference for peace. Each and every child who holds the flaming peace torch will remember that moment his entire life.
“As President of the 35th General Conference of UNESCO, one of my main goals was to foster a culture of peace. I found natural partners amongst the many people working with Sri Chinmoy’s international peace initiatives. They bring millions of world citizens into active service for the peace of our common planet. As we think of the United Nations proclaimed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) also known as 17 Global Goals, we know the “oneness-world” vision that Sri Chinmoy encouraged adds energy and enthusiasm to practical steps required. Only a few of us here work at the United Nations, but we can all have the willingness to work towards the implementation of some of these 17 special goals that are based upon an understanding of our interdependence and common home. For example, Goal 3: Good health and well-being which this park so beautifully supports; Goal 10: Reduce inequalities among countries (we must have at least 20 countries represented here today); and Goal 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions (how many here pray for peace every day?).
“Soon after Sri Chinmoy’s passing in 2007, a number of people from different countries had the inspiration to create peace monuments in the form of a statue of Sri Chinmoy as a vibrant inspiration to continue his grassroots efforts for world peace. Indeed, we have so few role models for young people, yet Sri Chinmoy was an excellent example of what one individual can do for peace. The first statue of Sri Chinmoy was placed in Oslo in 2008 with many other statues coming later. These monuments can be seen throughout the year, inspiring his message and spirit of peace– silently inviting all to offer their good will and a personal prayer for peace. Many of the outdoor spaces like this one, are in beautiful, peaceful locations that inspire people to meditate and to bring to the fore their own deepest aspirations. I pray that we each become messengers for peace, runners within and without, to make this world of ours a oneness-home.
“May I close by reciting the words of one of Sri Chinmoy’s aphorisms from his book, Sri Chinmoy’s Heart Garden: A Book of Aphorisms for Joy and Inspiration:
“The language of the heart
Is the only language
That everybody can understand.”
~ Sri Chinmoy
*Note: It was remembered that one of the original homes for the United Nations was in Flushing Meadows Corona Park before the UN Building in Manhattan was completed. The park’s iconic Worlds Fair Uni-sphere is also on the route of the Peace Run for the UN from Lake Success on Long Island to the UN Headquarters building in Manhattan held many years since 1985.