Peace flag ceremony: A tribute to E.C. Warriner


The Peace Flag flies over Warriner Hall in this April 22, 2021, photo. The annual flag raising -- presented this year by the Department of Philosophy, Anthropology and Religion and Central Sustainability, among others -- will take place from 1 to 2 p.m. Friday as a way to honor the university's fourth president, E.C Warriner.

Friday, April 21 marked the 100th year anniversary of former Central Michigan University President Eugene Clarence Warriner’s commencement speech. His speech, “The Outlook for Peace”, was paid tribute from 1-2 p.m. on Friday in front of Warriner Hall with the raising of the Pro Concordia Labor Flag, also known as the Peace Flag. 

As CMU faculty members and students gathered on the lawn around the flagpole, Philosophy, Anthropology and Religion Professor Hope May welcomed all who came to commemorate the Peace Through Law movement that Warriner championed for. 

The program was initiated by the Philosophy, Anthropology and Religion Department for the first time in 2015, and has been an annual tradition ever since. This year marks the third year Central Sustainability has partnered with the PAR Department and the flag ceremony in celebration of CMU’s Earth Week.

May said when the Pro Concordia Labor Flag was created in 1897, it was done so with the seven rules of harmony in mind. According to Pro Concordia Labor, Countess Cora di Brazza created the seven rules to provide a framework of guidance for those undertaking "the work of peace". One of those rules outlines humans living in harmony with the earth. 

Ava Brewer, CMU junior majoring in public relations, works for Central Sustainability and attended the ceremony. 

“A lot of people think of sustainability as just environmental sustainability, but there’s that whole societal sustainability part of it, and cultural sustainability,” Brewer said. “[When] you’re in an environment of peace, it’s more sustainable for everyone because everyone feels like they belong and it’s going to be a longer-lasting environment in that sense.” 

”The raising of the Peace Flag… is a means of providing education about the peace activism and cosmopolitanism of President Warriner and other moments involving international ethics and the promotion of peace,” according to the pamphlet handed out at the ceremony.

“We do this (ceremony)... to raise awareness of the work of E.C. Warriner…,” May said. “[He] was very involved in the Peace Through Law Movement, and also if you want to call it, Peace Through Education. So he thought that education was absolutely essential to the project of a peaceful world.”

After May’s introduction, CMU Provost and Executive Vice President Nancy Mathews delivered remarks in which she shared her personal experience with Earth Day.

“I was celebrating the very first Earth Day in my home outside of Detroit, Michigan,” Mathews said. “I remember my sixth-grade class carrying picket signs saying, ‘Save the Earth,’ in 1970. … we actually put a handkerchief on the tailpipe of an old Mustang and started the Mustang up. I will never forget taking that handkerchief off and looking at the black soot coming out of the tailpipe. This was truly a beginning for me, and I have to say, the beginning of my career as a committed environmentalist.”

Gabriel Ross, Michael Corner, Ike Bolton and Evan Heemstra from Phi Mu Alpha, a fraternity devoted to music, then sang Alma Mater. 

“Mighty Mother, Queen of Earth eternal, precious emblem of our lives Supreme; ever symbolizing truth and knowledge in glorified esteem,” the song said.

Natalie Brant, CMU junior majoring in international relations and philosophy, gave a speech titled “A Need to Know Peace.” She talked about college students today living through major catastrophes.

“We were born in the horrific events of 9/11, followed by devastating natural disasters, economic recessions, we’ve witnessed military aggression across the globe, and we live in an era where the safety of our schools is uncertain,” Brant said. “Our experiences are predominantly surrounded by acts of violence, and there needs to be change for that.”

Chloe McKinley, CMU senior studying music and philosophy, spoke on “An Enduring Narrative of Peace Education.” In her speech, she paid homage to Warriner and the Peace Through Law Movement. 

“[The Peace Through Law Movement] aims to end war through non-violent means, specifically through the creation of laws and legal institutions,” McKinley said. “Such institutions and legislation require active work by both organizations and individuals to cultivate the narrative of peace.”

Eric Urbaniak, CMU senior graduating with a degree in biology and public and non-profit administration, and co-founder and director of Central Sustainability, delivered his speech “Reflections on Peace and Sustainability.” 

“Sustainability and peace are intrinsically connected,” Urbaniak said. 

“Advocacy is hard, but not only is it hard, it is worthwhile,” he said. “During my time in college, I’ve been privileged enough to witness historic moments led by activists in our country and world. Most notably, I remember the anti-invasion protests regarding the ongoing invasion of Ukraine, the protests against our withdrawal from Afghanistan, the pursuit of re-instating Roe v. Wade and countless calls for action against gun violence, among other issues.”

Urbaniak said these examples highlight how change can be brought about once people are educated in order to collaborate together for a movement. 

Michael Buzzy, CMU senior studying political science and philosophy, presented his speech “A Lesson for Our Time.” Buzzy refered to Warriner’s 1923 speech on personal obligation with peace.

“What is so fundamental to Warriner’s address is that peace is a personal obligation… that implies a duty — an individualistic duty that he’s imploring to his graduates, that it will not simply be up to the world leaders… to bring forth peace,” Buzzy said. “It is an act and a conscious decision that must be made within all of us.”

After the final speaker, the Peace Flag was raised into the sky alongside the American flag and CMU’s flag - a symbol of dedication to peace both at CMU and abroad. 

Once the flag was raised, some audience members gathered inside Warriner Hall for conversation and refreshments. Flags bearing quotes on peace were displayed, one of which read ‘Law. Not war’ by Benjamin Ferencz. Ferencz, who died just two weeks ago at 103 years old, was also committed to the Peace Through Law movement as a former Nuremberg prosecutor. 

This story was updated to correct the spelling of Benjamin Ferencz's name.