The Words of the McLackand Family
Jakarta, Indonesia -- More than 50 participants representing eight religious traditions, ten nations and various walks of life gathered at The Wahid Institute in Jakarta for the Memorial Festival of Ascension and Unity on the theme 'Honoring the Legacy of Peace' jointly organized by the Universal Peace Federation and The Wahid Institute.
At beginning of the July 1 program, the audience was moved to tears while watching a heartfelt video tribute to the late President of Indonesia, H.E. Abdurrahman Wahid Gus Dur. Then the Master of Ceremony, Mrs. Ursula McLackland, Secretary General of UPF-Asia, welcomed the participants. After Dr. Chung Sik Yong, Chairman of the Universal Peace Federation-Asia, and Mrs. Yenny Zannuba Wahid, Director of The Wahid Institute, lit the candles in respect of the honorees, religious leaders representing the major faiths in Indonesia said prayers of remembrance from their own traditions. Mr. Kyai Nuruzaman blessed the gathering with a Muslim prayer; Romo Ismartono, Konferensi Wali Gereja Indonesia, said a Catholic prayer and Mr. Jerry Sumampow, Prawakilan Gereja Indonesia, a Protestant prayer; Bhikku Dhammasubho from the Konferensi Agung Sangha Indonesia, recited Buddhist chant; and Mr. Gulraj Singh, Yayasan Sikh Gurudwara Mission, offered a Sikh prayer.
Mr. Ahmad Suaedy, Executive Director of The Wahid Institute, reminded the audience of Gus Dur's progressive and moderate ways of thinking, defending minority rights, and promoting social justice. Mr. Pasit Sirimalai, Regional Director of Family Federation for World Peace and Unification of South East Asia, explained the UPF Founder, Dr. Sun Myung Moon's view of death as a person's elevation to the next stage in life, the spiritual world. After the audience watched the video presentation on the Legacy of Peace Programs in the USA and Korea, Mrs. Yenny Zannuba Wahid led the "Legacy of Peace" Ceremony by placing a bouquet of flowers in front of her father's photograph. Representatives from foreign missions came forward to pay respect to their country's honorees:
Mr. Byung-won Chung, Counsellor, Korean Embassy, honored his late President H.E. Kim Dae Jung
Mrs. Theja Gunatillake, Minister of Political Affairs, Sri Lankan Embassy, for the first woman Prime Minister in the world, H.E. Sirimavo Bandaranaike
H.E. Sirimavo Bandaranaike and Mr. A.S. Takhi, Second Secretary, Indian Embassy, for the former High Commissioner of India, H.E. Laxmi Mall Singhvi.
Brahmakumari B.K. Helen Qurin for Rt. Hon. Girija Prasad Koirala, Prime Minister of Nepal
Dr. Jean Pierre Joly for US Gen. Alexander Haig, Jr.
Prof. Dr. Edo Quiko for the former President of Costa Rica, for H.E. Rodrigo Carazo
After a moment of silence in remembrance of these great men and women, Mrs. Shinta Nuriyah, Founder of PUAN Amal Hayati and wife of President Wahid, shared her personal experience with the former President as a husband and father of their four daughters. She said: "Gus Dur always encouraged me to empower women through social activism toward gender equality." Young students from Merah Putih, a school for the underprivileged run by distinguished Ambassador for Peace R. Ay. Tri Wahyuniati Subali, delighted everyone with a Marawis performance of the Sufi Song "Sufna."
In her special remarks, Mrs. Yenny Zannuba Wahid focused on her father's public life and remarkable accomplishments despite adversity and misunderstanding. When President Wahid's followers were ready to take to the streets after his ouster from the presidency, he stopped them with the words: "There is no official position high enough and worth gaining it if it requires a single drop of blood." An accomplished journalist, politician, and social activist, she told everyone: "Working for peace requires a lifetime commitment, durable spirit, and sacrifice -- financial sacrifice or even bigger than that."
To conclude the program, Dr. Yong read the Founder's Address first given by Father Sun Myung Moon at the United Nations in New York on March 18. The address reminds us that that we are now living in the second stage of life, our life on earth lasting not more than 100 years. Like a baby in the mother's womb that is bound to enter a new stage of life through its birth on earth, we all will eventually be born into a new world, the spiritual world, upon our physical body's death. The audience was challenged to reflect on the legacy they will leave behind when they ascend to the spiritual world.
The program ended with the presentation of flowers to all the speakers as a token of appreciation for their contribution to the ceremony. After a final group photo, all participants exchanged joyful greetings and expressed their gratitude for having been able to attend this thought-provoking and meaningful event.