Beacon of Peace and Hope
The Beacon of Peace and Hope is a thirty-six-foot-tall steel tower on the north bank of the Arkansas River in North Little Rock (Pulaski County) dedicated to the universal desire for peace and the hope necessary to keep work for peace alive. The monument and the peace garden surrounding it are adjacent to the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum (AIMM), which displays the USS Razorback, a submarine active in World War II, and the tugboat USS Hoga.
The Beacon of Peace and Hope grew out of the idea that, alongside vessels representing military efforts for the country, efforts to preserve peace and hope should be honored. A board member of AIMM approached Women’s Action for New Directions (WAND) with the idea of erecting a peace monument next to the naval display. WAND agreed to raise the $150,000 necessary for construction of the monument.
The architectural firm of Taggart Foster Currence and Gray, Inc., of North Little Rock developed the plan for the monument. Jerry Currence conceived a tower with a beacon to shine in the night and point to the sky to symbolize the higher aspirations of peace and hope. Currence said the vertical beams symbolize individual timbers lashed together for strength, just as many timbers were once lashed together to produce strong moorings for ships. Along with the concept of togetherness resulting in strength, Currence wanted the arms of the beacon to symbolize a sextant, the instrument used to guide ships at sea to a safe harbor.
The lantern lights on the beacon tower represent the light that peace and hope bring to humankind. The peace light is the higher, representing the ultimate importance of peace. The part of the arc with the hope light is lower, representing the role that hope plays in supporting work for peace. The implication is that there is no peace without hope.
In his concept document for the beacon tower, Currence wrote the following: “I hope this sculpture might inspire those who view it to think of a world where PEACE and HOPE survive hand in hand. I hope that it will inspire people to find ways to advance these ideas. I hope they will share these ideas with their children. Without the children; there’s no one to carry on. Without PEACE and HOPE; there’s no reason to.”
The peace garden surrounding the tower was dedicated in 2011 as a memorial to Frederick “Sandy” Phillips of Little Rock (Pulaski County), who was one of the victims of the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988. It is designed to enhance the atmosphere of peacefulness at the tower’s circular walkway. The garden is planted to have green and blooming plants growing the whole year. A plaque contains a fragment of a poem about ending violence written by Phillips. Another plaque says it is WAND’s hope that this “garden will be a place where children and families can come together to celebrate peace as an ideal to work toward in this war-torn world.” The Beacon of Peace and Hope and the peace garden are the site of the annual Pilgrimage for Peace sponsored by WAND and dozens of local peace and social justice organizations.
For additional information:
Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum. https://aimm.museum/beacon.asp (accessed April 12, 2023).
Arkansas WAND. https://www.arkwand.com/ (accessed April 12, 2023).
Reed, Jennifer Barnett. “A Beaming Monument: Beacon of Peace and Hope to Join Maritime Museum.” Arkansas Times, August 11, 2005. https://arktimes.com/news/arkansas-reporter/2005/08/11/a-beaming-monument (accessed April 12, 2023).
Little Rock, Arkansas
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