Imagine Peace Tower, 9th October 2015 – Marine de Rocca Serra
Imagine Peace Tower, 9th October 2015
On Friday 9th of October 2015, I had the extreme pleasure to attend a great event.
Indeed, at 17h15, I took a bus in order to reach the harbour at the south of Reykjavik, Iceland. There I took the ferry in order to arrive at an island situated in the bay, called Viðey. This beautiful piece of land was the chosen place where an important even occurred this evening. It was the birthday of a man who tragically died in 1980; I am talking about John Lennon. John Lennon was one of the main members of the British band, the Beatles. In 2006, his wife, the singer Yoko Ono, lit up the Imagine Peace Tower for the first time, on the one hand to pay a tribute to her late husband and on the other hand to promote peace, love, and hope around the world. This could be seen as a symbolic event for Iceland but it was also an opportunity for me to learn some historical facts about Iceland.
Viðey means Wood Island and it was first inhabited in 900 AD. There is one Icelandic house, which you can see from the harbour of Reykjavik, and which is called the Mansion. It was built during the 18th Century, when Iceland still belonged to Denmark. This house was called the Palace and was the main residence of the Governor General of Iceland. This is a beautiful, cosy and warm house. It is just how I imagined Danish houses. A few moments after my arrival, a guide was designated to explain the history of Viðey. He told the group that a village was settled here at the beginning of the 20th Century but was deserted at the beginning of the Second World War because of financial problems.
A bit later, I entered into a little church next to the Mansion. Men and women had to sit separately on each side before the altar. The guide explained that Icelandic people petitioned to the King of Denmark in order to build this church. This religious place is known for having two main superstitions. First, the main entrance must always remain open, even if it is storming outside. Apparently, the grandson of the island’s guardian was a priest many decades ago. He gave a mass with the door of the church closed; it was the first time that a priest did this. After he ended his service, he took a boat to Reykjavik. Unfortunately, his boat sank and he died. The second superstition is based on the number of clergymen who can attend the mass. It is said that three priests cannot be present at the same time in the church or they will die. Three priests who gave a mass in this church mysteriously died afterwards, hence this superstition. After the guided tour, people went inside the Mansion to warm themselves before going to the place where the Imagine Peace would be lit up.
The weather was rather cold, windy and rainy, but what would follow was worth it. The Reykjavik choir sang many lyrical songs during the twenty minutes before the arrival of Yoko Ono and her daughter. Yoko Ono gave a speech about the song ‘Imagine Peace’, what it represents for the world and also for herself. She explained that Iceland was chosen as the place where the Imagine Peace Tower would be built because it has no military force; this function is fulfilled by the NATO countries. According to Yoko Ono, this is emblematic and must serve as an example for all countries; she explained the necessity of being pacific and spread Peace and Love throughout the world. Although, her husband was violently killed, Yoko Ono insisted that vengeance is not a wise reaction to such an act. The song ‘Imagine’ was played and the Imagine Peace Tower was eventually lit up. From now on, the Imagine Peace Tower will show itself among the stars and the Northern lights every night. I can easily see it from the place where I am living this semester, on my MASTER exchange with the University of Reykjavik. Sometimes, I go to the harbour just to contemplate it.
Marine de Rocca Serra
on exchange at the University of Iceland at Reykjavik