National Peace Day

Millions have been inspired by the late 13-year-old poet and peacemaker, Mattie J.T. Stepanek. On July 17, we want to celebrate peace, Mattie’s life and legacy through a national peace day on July 17 (his birthday).

The Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation is campaigning to share Mattie’s life and legacy as a gift to our nation – with the proclamation of an annual, nationally recognized day that puts “peace” on our national calendar – to be celebrated with educational and recreational activities that teach and support peace as a choice, for one’s self and for one’s community and for our world – on the day of Mattie’s birth.

We are asking the President of the United States of America to declare July 17 National Peace Day.

A national day designated for peace matters because peace matters! Our world is in desperate need of non-violent conflict resolution, anti-bullying education, nurturing of resilience, and simple kindness. Peace is possible – if we make peace something that matters to us and for others, and if we choose to reflect on how peace begins and grows, and then learn to respond and reach out with peace through deliberate attitudes and actions. Proclaiming an annual day to consider and celebrate peace makes a clear statement about what matters for the citizens of our country, and for our country as a global role model.

This campaign is about this country choosing to make peace something that matters enough that it is on our national calendar and agenda. This would be a day that as a national family, we focus on peace – awareness and education, projects and celebrations, doing peace and being peace. We cannot truly have peace with our neighbors if we do not have peace in our own hearts. Likewise, we cannot expect to negotiate world peace if we do not practice peace together in our own country. Ending wars with and in other countries is an important part of peace, but it is not how or where peace begins. Peace begins within each person – and is fostered at home, at school, at work, and in local communities, and grows outward.

Mattie is being linked to this national peace day campaign for the same reason the name and legacy of any other role model is linked to a particular day or event – not for glory and recognition, but for inspiration and example. Mattie inspired millions of people to think about peace, to talk about peace, and to make peace their choice in word and action when he was alive. In the ten years since he died, millions more people around the world have been positively impacted by activities and materials that are rooted in Mattie’s message and writings. Mattie took the abstract and seemingly impossible concept of peace and explained it in ways that make it understandable, desirable, and achievable. He offered a template of peace choices that can move peace from a possibility to a personal, community, and global reality. To campaign for a “peace day” for our country and not have it attached to a concrete “what now, what next” embraceable and achievable “attitude to action” plan could further dis-illusion (even empower) the peace skeptics. Mattie not only inspires people across ages, abilities, aspirations, faiths, cultures, and political preferences to want peace, he inspires us to reach for it, and even to offer peace to our neighbors. July 17 is Mattie’s birthday – a wonderful mid-year day to consider and celebrate peace as a national family.

This Campaign was initiated by a U.S. Senator in honor of the ten-year anniversary of Mattie’s passing. Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) wrote the first letter requesting this proclamation during 2013. After the events of 9/11 and the 2001 anthrax scares that followed, Sen. Mikulski saw Mattie offering hope and healing, even peace, through poetry. She reached out to him, visiting with him on more than one occasion, which inspired her to believe that peace is indeed possible if we take the time to learn about peace, and if we deliberately make choices in attitudes and actions that promote peace for ourselves and our world. Now, this campaign is needed more than ever, as our nation struggles with division and unrest. Peace unifies!

Since initiated, Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA), Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Maryland Democratic Committee Chair Kathleen Matthews, Former State Senator Jennie Forehand (MD), Former County Executive Doug Duncan (Montgomery County, MD), Mayor Bridget Newton (Rockville, MD), Montgomery County Council Rep. Sidney Katz (Gaithersburg, MD), the Muscular Dystrophy Association, Children’s Hospice International, the We Are Family Foundation, CNN’s Chris Cuomo, EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo, Larry King, Billy Gilman, and a growing number of leaders and citizens (more then 8,500 so far) have joined the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation in promoting this Campaign – writing letters, signing the online petition, and sharing information on social media for a July 17 National Peace Day. The petition launched in June 2014 and is on the Change.org website. The petition goal is set for 100,000 signatures, as that is a number generally recognized by the White House for attention to a campaign. The hope is that our President will act soon, and choose peace rather than wait for numbers or deadlines. Mattie’s Foundation is creating information guides to support individuals, families, and communities in celebrating Mattie’s Peace Day in ways that help education people of all ages about how peace begins, and how it moves from a possibility to a reality.

What can individuals do to support this campaign?

  • Peace is for all people – encourage campaign involvement across ages, states, and political parties.
  • Sign the petition – in less than one minute, your name can create history and “make peace the news.”
  • Get others involved – share information and ask family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors to sign.
  • Reach out to local politicians and celebrity or media connections – Your personal letter provides a quick and easy way for individuals to support the campaign beyond the online petition.
  • Write a letter to the US President.
  • Raise awareness – help change history by encouraging your local television, radio, and newspapers to do a story on this campaign, and by sharing campaign information daily on social media.

#NationalPeaceDay #July17 #Change4Peace

One person can make a difference, but together, we can create change.

Let’s change our national agenda, with peace. Thank you!