History of World Peace Day

During the tumultuous times of the twentieth century, an influential figure envisioned a day where all the nations of the world would concentrate on peace. In 1967, Pope Paul VI proposed a World Day of Peace or World Peace Day. He gave a message of goodwill, addressed to leaders around the world, that encouraged a common day of peace to be adopted by all countries regardless of their political, economic or religious practices.

Since the idea was proposed in 1967, World Peace Day has grown in popularity and the concept of a day of global peace has been promoted. Many global governments and organizations such as the United Nations have informally adopted the holiday and January 1 marks World Peace Day. The United Nations reports that more than 100 governments have committed to the holiday, including the United States Congress. In 2000, the U.S. government officially declared its participation in the World Day of Peace and promotes every January 1 as a day of sharing, hope and peace.

Each year on World Peace Day, the current Pope delivers a message to the world's leaders. The messages generally have a theme that centers on hope and global peace. Some recent themes include overcoming evil with good, truth, justice, freedom, eliminating poverty and solidarity.

Today, the idea behind World Peace Day is for all people to come together in peaceful pursuits and promote cooperation and communication between nations through public awareness and education. Many world organizations promote a letter-writing campaign where citizens send letters to the leaders of their country encouraging them to embrace peaceful alternatives to international conflicts and to use their influence for good. Many church groups organize peace prayers, where members come together and offer prayers on behalf of world leaders. They pray for the resolution of conflicts worldwide and for ongoing wars to end peacefully.

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