Hi. I’m Manny Perlman, speaking to you on a snowy day in Baltimore Maryland.

Almost 30 years ago, Billy Joel sang a song with lyrics that are still burning today: “We didn’t start the fire / it was always burning since the world’s been turning / We didn’t start the fire / no, we didn’t light it but we tried to fight it.” We are determined to hose down that fire through Destination Peace. The water that can and must quench the growing thirst of that fire is through teaching peace, compassion, and respect.

Nelson Mandela taught us that education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world. The fanning of the flames that started that fire is politics: politics and rapid technological change, including instant, unfiltered information, have been replacing the tenets of family values and religion. Television anchors speaking persuasively to us in our homes have anchored our own thinking and marooned our sailboats of choices. There is thinking and decision-making in situations that are outside politics.

My late father-in-law fought bravely in Patton’s army. My late father fought on Iwo Jima and risked his life and received the Bronze Star. On Veterans Day I was reminded that it isn’t the news that is news, it’s the choices and how and what is reported. Not a single story of heroism headlined the reporting. Yes, Nelson Mandela taught us that education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world. Hate inside the hearts and minds of our evolving children- it’s not a natural response! It is learned.

Charity and acts of kindness are taught in religion and civic-minded communities. Our churches synagogues, mosques, elementary and high schools, colleges and universities must again teach and compassion and respect. The synergy of these values will stifle intolerance. How many times… how many times will we hear someone shout and scream “It doesn’t happen here! It doesn’t happen here in our community!”

Please join me on the path of peace. If a massacre can happen in Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood, then Veterans’ Day for our grandchildren may no longer be for heroic soldiers; instead they will be replaced by the emerging heroes of domestic violence in our own country, our own neighborhood. Wake up! Join us! Join Destination Peace.

We didn’t start the fire, but together we can put it out. Thank you.

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