Speakers at the event at the Truman Presidential Library & Museum and the U.N. Peace Plaza included Maj. Gen. Anis A. Bajwa of the U.N. Department of Peacekeeping Operations and Lt. Col. Graeme Finney of the Australian Army.
Once again the legacy of Harry S. Truman was celebrated Saturday at the library and museum named in his honor.
The celebration was the 60th anniversary of the first United Nations’ peacekeeping operation which was established during Truman’s administration.
The program, “Tribute to the Blue Helmets: The 60th Anniversary of United Nations Peacekeeping,” was sponsored by the Greater Kansas City United Nations Association and paid tribute to U.N. peacekeepers whose first two missions – which monitored the armistice ending the 1948 war between the new state of Israel and its neighbors and which observed peace between the newly independent states of India and Pakistan – were made during Truman’s tenure in the White House.
Guest speakers included Maj. Gen. Anis A. Bajwa, U.N. Department of Peacekeeping Operations and Lt. Col. Graeme Finney of the Australian Army.
Bajwa retired from the Pakistan Army in 2003 to join the DPKO and is currently director of the Policy, Evaluation and Training Division. His U.N. peacekeeping experience includes assignments in Somalia, where he served as Chief of Staff at the force headquarters and in Georgia, where he was chief military observer.
“It was here, 60 years ago, that President Harry S. Truman announced that the United States would become a member of the United Nations,” Bajwa said. “And it was in this city in 1947 that President Truman signed a bill to support (Greece and Turkey) the recovery of those two countries from the devastating effects of the second World War II. The U.S. has played a great part in the U.N.”
Finney was honored for distinguished service in East Timor, where he commanded the 103rd Medium Battery of the Australian Army as part of the International Force for East Timor, a multinational United Nations force mandated to bring peace to the nation in 1999. He is now stationed at the Fort Leavenworth Military Base in Kansas.
Finney extolled the U.N.’s responsibility to protect the world community.
“The world community is prepared to respond in the times of need, in support of a legitimate cause and when needed to respond quickly and effectively,” Finney said. “Peacekeepers provide flexibility for the United Nations. It is a trend we will continue to see.”
Leaht R.T. Feldman of the Young Professionals for International Cooperation said she was impressed by both speakers. She added peace among not only nations, but neighbors, is in dire straits. The YPIC is affiliated with the United Nation Association’s Kansas City chapter.
“People have been exploited a little bit lately,” Feldman said. “Instead of working together people have been turning against each other. I think if people work together and realize that they have similarities and use their differences to combine and grow together, the country and even the world hopefully can work together much more.”
Page 2 of 2 - The program was followed by a wreath laying ceremony at the United Nations Peace Plaza, located near Lexington and Walnut. It is the only monument dedicated to peace in the country outside of the U.N.’s headquarters in New York.