International Day of Peace Sept. 21 at Elder and Sage Community Garden

Yousef Natsha, Peacemaker of the Year
Yousef Natsha, Peacemaker of the Year. Photo courtesy of Veterans for Peace

Press release from Veterans for Peace:

Keeping with this year’s theme for International Day of Peace, “The Right to Peace,” the Peace Day committee has chosen Palestine-born Yousef Natsha and American-born wife Rachel Joy as Peacemakers of the Year. They will be recognized at the Asheville celebration on Friday, Sept. 21, 11:30 a.m. at the Elder and Sage Community Gardens on Page Avenue.

The couple now live in Asheville and are former members of the Christian Peacemaker Team in Hebron, an international organization that supports peace workers in conflict areas around the world. Filmmaker Natsha and Joy share the struggles of Palestinians in the recent documentary Hebron. 

Peace activists will also be dedicating the addition of a new Peace Pole in the garden with the phrase “May Peace Prevail on Earth” in Korean, Cherokee, Spanish and English. North Carolina Representative Susan Fisher has been invited to read the proclamation from State District 114 at the gathering. Other similar proclamations will be read before then by the City of Asheville and Buncombe County Sept. 11 and 18.

The peace celebration will feature music by Caesar Williams III, dance and meditation by Ruby Warren, and poetry by Dr. Ellie Halsey, Participants will pause as the bells ring from the Basilica of St. Lawrence at 12 noon, the exact time the United Nations will be ringing its bells in New York City, along with hundreds of other locations around the world.

International Day of Peace is celebrated annually throughout the world, including Asheville. This year participants are urged to also observe the 70th anniversary of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights that addresses the issues of poverty, hunger, health, education, water, sanitation, climate change, gender equality, energy, the environment and social justice. 

“Although numbers of U.S combat soldier casualties have thankfully gone down in recent years, peace is still a non-reality in countries like Yemen, Syria, Israel-Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as in our schools and our streets right here in Asheville,” Rachael Bliss, organizer, explains. “And let’s not forget the forgotten veterans who come home broken and often take their own lives as a result.”

In addition to the event above, Creative Peacemakers will feature a week of peace-related activities, culminating with a special event on Saturday, Sept. 22 at the Center for Art and Spirit at St George Episcopal Church in West Asheville. For details, visit

Local sponsors for Peace Day this year is Veterans for Peace Chapter 099, a local group dedicated to changing public opinion from the unsustainable culture of militarism and commercialism to one of peace, and WNC 4 Peace, which works with other regional groups to promote peace and justice actions and to honor those who dedicate their lives to nonviolence. 

For more information about this event, call 828-505-9425 or send an email to

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