For the second time since Rotary International was born in 1905 in Chicago, a sitting RI president will visit Oak Ridge. He will serve as keynote speaker and hear innovative ideas at the Oak Ridge Peace Forum on Saturday, March 9, at Oak Ridge Associated Universities’ Pollard Auditorium.
The only other time a sitting RI president spoke in Oak Ridge was in 2000 when Frank Devlyn of Mexico came here. Why will RI President Sakuji Tanaka of Japan be in Oak Ridge Mar. 8-10?
The chief reason is that he was invited by Jack Bailey, Oak Ridge High School graduate and track star, former JCPenney store manager, past president of the Rotary Club of Oak Ridge, and current district governor of Rotary District 6780, which encompasses 65 clubs in East Tennessee. Here’s the story.
In January 2012 Bailey, district governor-elect, and his wife Pat (also an ORHS graduate) traveled to San Diego. There they joined 534 other district governors-elect and their spouses from around the world for training at the International Assembly.
Tanaka, the Rotary International president-elect, gave a speech in which he announced that his theme for the year would be “Peace through Service.” He added that RI would sponsor three international peace forums in Berlin, Honolulu, and Hiroshima.
“As I sat in the audience, the bells and whistles went off,” District Governor Bailey said. “I immediately thought of the World War II tie-in that Oak Ridge has with those three cities, especially Hiroshima.”
Bailey envisioned a district-sponsored 2013 peace forum in Oak Ridge that the RI president would attend and address. He approached John Germ of Chattanooga, past RI vice president and RI trustee, and Karen Wentz, past DG of District 6780, with his idea.
They agreed to pitch the concept of a district-sponsored peace forum in Oak Ridge that the RI president would be invited to attend. Germ agreed to talk with Tanaka, and Wentz said she would approach T. D. Griley, Tanaka’s aide whom she knew.
“John and Karen told me that both seemed receptive to the idea,” Bailey said. “They advised me to write a letter of invitation to Tanaka.”
Bailey sought assistance in writing the letter from Bill Wilcox, Oak Ridge’s city historian and fellow member of the Rotary Club of Oak Ridge.
Wilcox explained Oak Ridge’s involvement in producing fuel for the atomic bomb that led to Japan’s surrender in August 1945, ending World War II and bringing peace to a world that had lost 54 million people.
Bailey rearranged and tweaked the letter and sent it to Tanaka, who accepted the invitation. Although many districts are sponsoring peace forums and other activities, the Oak Ridge Peace Forum is the only district-sponsored peace forum in the continental United States that Tanaka will attend and address.
He will also visit Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the International Friendship Bell (made in Japan), and the Secret City Commemorative Walk (built by the Rotary Club of Oak Ridge) in Bissell Park.
The Oak Ridge Peace Forum will feature two panels that will approach peace from the perspectives of human understanding and science and technology. Wentz will be moderator of the “Peace through Human Understanding” panel.
Jim Roberto, head of the Partnerships directorate and acting deputy director for science and technology at ORNL, will be the moderator of the “Peace through Science and Technology” panel.
Panel members from ORNL will be Budhendra Bhaduri, leader of the Geographic Information Science and Technology group in the Computing and Computational Sciences directorate; Gene Ice, director of the Materials Science and Technology Division; Alan Icenhour, director of the Global Nuclear Security Technology Division; and Rekha Pillai, manager of ORNL’s International Science and Technology Program.
For more information, contact Peace Forum committee chair Fred Heitman at [email protected]. To register for the conference by the Feb. 22 deadline, visit the website http://www.rotaryor.org/peaceforum.html.