Floyd Schmoe was one of University Friends Meeting’s most well-known Friends, and he played a large part in making our Meeting what it is today. Not only was he one of the first rangers at Mount Rainier National Park, but he felt so strongly about the mistreatment of Japanese Americans in the early 1940s that he left his scientific career to work full time on their behalf. After the Second World War he organized many volunteers to build houses in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. So many Japanese people revere him for this work that a few years ago a Japanese television crew visited UFM and made a video about him.
In the same spirit, in the late 1980s Floyd Schmoe saw an opportunity in the vacant land across NE 40th Street from the Meetinghouse, and organized volunteers to create a Peace Park, complete with a statue of Sadako Sasaki, a child survivor of the bombing of Hiroshima who died of radiation sickness as she was trying to complete a string of paper cranes to call for peace. Floyd put an enormous amount of effort into this work and recruited supporters worldwide. [He was not above name-dropping his friendship with celebrities and royalty in doing so.] Numerous UFM members and attenders helped in the fundraising and construction, including my daughter Marissa who was one of the models for the statue. You can find a detailed account on the local website Historylink.org, which makes clear the Quaker roots and origin of the project.
Since the dedication in 1990, the statue has been regularly decorated with long strings of paper cranes in memory of Sadako’s witness for peace. Many of these come from local schools where the book “Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes” is read aloud. But some come from elsewhere; a few years ago a large box arrived at the UFM office addressed to “Peace Park Seattle”. It held many strings of paper cranes created by a special education class in Connecticut. UFM’s Peace and Social Concerns Committee organized a small ceremony to place the cranes on the statue, on behalf of the Connecticut students. When we sent photos to the school we got a very nice thank you note saying that the students were very happy to see their cranes in place.
The park has occasionally served as a location for peace-oriented events, including a vigil by UFM members in favor of election integrity on the day after Election Day in November 2020.
Thirty years after its dedication, Peace Park continues to inspire strong visions of international cooperation and peace.