The Rotary Peace Bell Albury Wodonga was a Rotary Club of Wodonga West initiative that brought a World Peace Bell to the Albury Wodonga region. The club wanted to increase peace awareness in the local community, in schools, businesses and homes.
So, they set out to install a large Peace Bell that would become a focal point for peace.
The Albury Wodonga Peace Bell is a replica of the World Peace Bell, which is located in the inner court of the United Nations (UN) headquarters in New York. The Peace Bell was donated to the UN in 1954 by Chiyoji Nakagawa, a former Mayor of Uwajima in Shikoku, Japan. After WWII, Mr Nakagawa canvassed the then 65 member countries of the United Nations asking for donations of coins to melt down and be used to make the bell. His mission was to remind the world of the importance of peace and to say that no nation should ever again experience an atomic bomb attack such as his country’s cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, witnessed in August 1945.
The UN bell, which is surrounded by soil from the two bombed cities, is rung at the opening of UN General Assembly and annually on September 21, which is World Peace Day. Usually, the Peace Bells are housed in a typical Japanese Shinto shrine-like structure. The words ‘Long Live World Peace’ are inscribed in Japanese characters on one side of the bell.
The Rotary Club of Wodonga West invited students and teachers from all schools in the twin cities of Albury and Wodonga to be involved in the project. They said that education of the younger generation on the requirements for peace is paramount and was the key objective of this project. Both cities were major sponsors of the project. The club raised $80,000 for the structure and for the preparation and landscaping of the surrounds.
Following the successful completion of the project, the Peace Bell was handed over to the custodian, the Rural City of Wodonga, on World Peace Day, September 21, 2022. The initiative was supported by the UN, with the President of the United Nations Australia Association, Mr Brian Gleeson, giving the keynote address at the unveiling ceremony.
With the completion of the Albury Wodonga Bell there are now 27 Peace Bells in various locations round the world. In Australia, there are three World Peace Bells. The other two are in Canberra and Cowra.