Honoring San Antonio's peacemakers in a season of nonviolence
Every year, San Antonio's peaceCENTER celebrates the people of the city who, according to Ann Helmke, director, "are working for peace every day."
This year's Blessing of the Peacemakers event coincided, as it has for the past five years, with the National Season of Nonviolence. The season begins Jan. 30, the anniversary of Mahatma Ghandi's assassination, and ends 64 days later on the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination, April 4.
During the campaign, groups from around the world raise awareness of the power of nonviolence.
For more than a decade, the center, an interfaith group working toward peace in San Antonio and beyond, has taken part in the Season of Nonviolence.
The service, held in the Mennonite Church on South St. Mary's Street, began with a chant for world peace, given by the center's Tibetan Lamas in Residence, Geshe Drakpa and Lama Passang Gelek.
Drakpa became fully ordained as a monk from the Dalai Lama before the age of 20 and spent may years under his direct supervision, and Gelek has been teaching Buddhism in San Antonio since 2002.
Following the chant, the third annual Peace Laureates were announced to the packed pews.
Because the theme of this year's National Season of Nonviolence is "unity," members of the center decided to choose a couple as this year's Peace Laureates.
"Jane and 'Woody' Tuck have been working for over six decades for peace," says Helmke. "As far as we know, San Antonio is the only city in the United States who has our own Peace Laureates."
The Tucks are originally from Pennsylvania and met at what is now Indiana University of Pennsylvania. They both became teachers, but Woody eventually decided to choose the Air Force as his career, where he remained for 20 years.
While Woody was an Air Force officer, Jane was becoming a peace activist. "These two elements don't often go well together," says Jane.
In September, 2010, they will be married for 60 years.
In 1968, with the Vietnam War raging, explains Jane, "we had come to the conclusion that this was an illegal and immoral war."
"Because I was an officer in the Medical Service Corps," adds Woody, "I found some consolation that I was working with physicians and not killing people. I soon found that this [war] could never lead to peace."
When the couple received orders to relocate to San Antonio, Jane learned of the San Antonio Women for Peace group.
"So I rushed to that meeting and found a great group of women who were doing good things to try and end the Vietnam War," says Jane.
Jane became involved in helping conscientious objectors fill out their paperwork to apply for CO status after being drafted by the United States government to go to Vietnam.
Past recipients of the Peace Laureate were Dr. Ruth Lofgren (2008) and Rev. Claude Black (2009).