Author Emma Lou Thayne praised the United Nations and said an "exchange of heart" leads to world peace, during a program celebrating United Nations Day in Utah Monday.
"What a time to be celebrating the United Nations . . . when recognition has just come to the U.N. peacekeepers," she said, referring to the recent awarding of a Nobel Peace Prize."I have been celebrating the U.N. subliminally for 44 years."
Thayne spoke about personal experiences in her life that were "exchanges of the heart." Such an exchange occurred in 1982 when she said she was looking for peace in her own valley. Inspired by David B. Freed, a member of the United Nations Association of Utah, she wrote a book of peace poems titled, "How Much for the Earth."
During a Peace Week celebration at Brigham Young University, Thayne said a professor convinced her she should have her poems translated and taken to the Russians, so they could enjoy the message of peace presented in her works. The book was translated and distributed in Russia, and in 1984 she was given the opportunity to visit the Soviet Union.
She spoke of her visit to the Leningrad Memorial where more than 500,000 people who died in World War II were buried. She described the mounds where the people were buried without tombstones, but only years marking the graves. Although those buried were Russian men, women and children, Thayne said she felt a closeness to the people.
"I thought these are my years. This is my war. There are more people (buried) here than in the valley where I grew up." She said she wept as she thought of the people and approached a woman close to her same age that was caring for the garden.
"The woman took off one of her mismatched gloves and wiped my tears," Thayne said. She offered the woman a book of her poems and the women began to read the poems about world peace aloud.
"I left with her a part of myself," she said. "I have no doubt it made a change in her - an exchange of heart."
Thayne spoke of a 1986 peace celebration at 4:30 a.m. on Christmas Eve day. More than 2,000 people of all religions and races came to Kingsbury Hall "to pray and meditate together for peace," she said. "It was people just being. And being together.
"The greatest thing was that in the silences came the sense of connectiveness. In the silences came a sense of community . . .," she said. All of those there began to sing, "Let There Be Peace on Earth and Let it Begin With Me."
"Out of that silence had come a need to make a joyful noise," Thayne said. Although she said she remained the same person with the same beliefs, that "exchange of heart" had a great effect on her.
"I was so enriched and enlarged by those who surrounded me that I will never be the same."
Thayne also spoke about a Russian visitor who stayed in her home for 84 days. She said many of her friends that came to visit the Russian woman had many misconceptions about her and her country.
"People would come with suspicions. But people would leave with every stereotype gone," she said. This was another exchange of heart.
Thayne also praised the U.N. peacekeepers for their important efforts in striving to keep peace.