Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C. – The Lincoln Memorial not only celebrates the life of the 16th president through a striking structure and interactive museum, but also carries his message of peace following the devastation of the Civil War. The words of his second inaugural address, carved into marble on the walls of the monument, would be a worthwhile plea to any of today’s war zones: “With malice toward none; with charity for all … let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan – to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nation”
USS Missouri, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii – A battleship seems like an odd place to celebrate peace, but it was on the deck of the USS Missouri where the Japanese and Allies signed the peace treaty to end World War II on Sept. 2, 1945. Now docked in Pearl Harbor, where the war began for the U.S., the massive USS Missouri is open for guided tours of the inner workings of the ship, its history, and the very spot where the war formally ended. As Gen. Douglas MacArthur said at the time, “Let us pray that peace be now restored to the world and that God will preserve it always. These proceedings are closed!”
Amsterdam Hilton, Netherlands – On a lighter note, John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s ” bed-in for peace ” took place in a suite at the Amsterdam Hilton in 1969. Part of their year was immortalized in the song ” Ballad of John and Yoko .” Their protest/performance art project certainly didn’t end the war in Vietnam or anyplace else, but it was a noteworthy effort. You can actually stay in the same suite they used, now updated and full of Beatles memorabilia and a nice sound system, where you can put John’s “Give Peace a Chance” on auto-play. If you can’t make it to Amsterdam, you can also stay in the suite in Montreal’s Fairmont. The Queen Elizabeth where John and Yoko staged a second “bed-in” and wrote and recorded peace anthem.
The Wall for Peace, Paris – This relatively unknown monument to peace sits in Champs des Mars within view of the Eiffel Tower. The 50-foot long, 30-foot high wall of steel and etched glass contains the word “peace” inscribed in 32 languages in its translucent surface. Inspired by the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, the Wall for Peace also has a series of nooks where visitors can place their own messages of peace. Originally meant to be installed for just a three-month exhibit, the wall has stood in the park since 2000, showing that even here in a park dedicated to the god of war, peace has some staying power.
Hiroshima Peace Memorial, Japan – Suffering the devastation of an atomic attack tends to make one focused on peace, and this moving memorial near ground zero of the August 1945 bombing is a scenic and thought-provoking spot. The stark steel-and-concrete skeleton of the Genbaku Dome was one of the few structures left standing after the bombing, and it has been preserved and converted into a museum surrounded by cherry tree-filled Peace Memorial Park . The museum’s exhibits displaying the horrors of war finish with a wall of messages for peace from the humble, the famous, and the famously humble Mother Theresa, who wrote, “Let us love one another … so that the terrible evil that had brought so much suffering to Hiroshima may never happen again.”
The Peace Palace, The Hague, Netherlands – Funded by American steel magnate Andrew Carnegie, and constructed in 1912, the Peace Palace was inspired by The Hague peace conferences of 1899 and 1907. The conferences were meant to promote world peace and reduce the savagery of war. It didn’t work, as World War I began in Belgium a year after the palace was dedicated. But the war ended, and the palace still remains, now housing the International Court of Justice (which tries war criminals), the Permanent Court of Arbitration, and the Peace Palace Library. They’re trying. The scenic grounds of the palace host temporary and permanent peace exhibits, and The Hague (“International City of Peace and Justice”) has citywide celebrations to commemorate the United Nations Peace Day on September 21.
National Peacekeeping Monument, Ottawa, Canada – Only in polite Canada could you have a national monument dedicated to “reconciliation.” The Peacekeeping Monument, across from the Peace Tower in the capital complex in Ottawa, commemorates the service of more than 110,000 Canadians who have been part of United Nations peacekeeping missions around the world. It includes a quote by former Canadian Prime Minister and Nobel Peace Prize winner Lester Pearson (whose government also introduced universal health care and abolished the death penalty): “We need action not only to end the fighting, but to make the peace.”
Palace of Versailles, France -The 1919 Treaty of Versailles has been blamed as a root cause for World War II as well as for the current mess in the Middle East, but it at least did formally mark the end of World War I, granting at least a temporary peace to a weary continent. Visitors to Versailles can now walk through the Hall of Mirrors , where politicians from around the world gathered for the ceremony, and see the Louis XV desk where the document was signed. Even amid heavy summer crowds of visitors to Versailles, you can still find some peace and quiet walking through the palace’s extensive gardens.
Courtesy: Bill Fink on Yahoo! Travel