2014 Peace Essay Contest Grade 4-5 Winners

First Place, Pooja Muthuraj, gr. 4, Twin Hickory ES, Henrico Co. Public Schools;

Second Place, Sanyuktha Srikanth, gr. 5, Bull Run ES, Fairfax Co. Public Schools;

Third Place, Sanjana Srikanth, gr. 5, Bull Run ES;

Honorable Mentions,:

Kyle Altermatt, gr. 4, Evergreen  ES, Chesterfield Co. Public Schools;

John Kelleher, gr. 4, Colonial Trail ES, Henrico Co. Public Schools;

Synia Morris, gr. 4 William Fox ES, Richmond Public Schools;

Kalakriti Pillai, gr. 4, Colonial Trail ES, Henrico Co. Public Schools


Pooja Muthuraj. First Place, Grade 4, Twin hickory ES, Henrico Co. Public Schools

Mahatma Gandhi: A Man of Peace

You have probably heard of cartoon heroes such as Spiderman or Superman, but what is the real meaning of “hero?” “Hero” means “a person, typically a man, who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.” This can mean anyone, can`t it? One of those examples is Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. You might recognize him as the famous Mahatma Gandhi.

Many people hear about Gandhi`s achievements, but rarely his childhood and birth. He was born on October 2nd, 1869, in Porbandar, Gujarat.   His parents were Putlibai and Karamchand Gandhi. He went to the University College of London, where he got his education. One of his main influences was Shravan Kumar, who was a young boy that was devoted to his parents more than anything else. Another one of Gandhi`s influences was a man called Harishchandra. This man never went back on his word, no matter what that meant for himself and his family.

Mahatma Gandhi was a very significant leader during the Indian Revolution.   This was a war that the Indians fought to get their freedom from Great Britain. Most wars are violent, but Gandhi did not agree with that idea. Bloodshed is not even a word in his dictionary! He believed in non-violence, so he led peaceful protests instead. One example is the salt march. In this event, Mahatma Gandhi walked over 240 miles, just to pick up a handful of salt that had washed up on the shore of the Arabian Sea! Gandhi did this as a protest because the British had banned India from manufacturing their own salt. Not only this but the British thought that killing and arresting was alright! They arrested over 60,000 people for participating, including Gandhi! Of course, he was released later. He convinced billions of people to take part in India`s fight for freedom that might not have wanted to if he didn`t persuade them. This was part of what led India to win some of their bloodiest battles. Of course, the British were doing most of the killing, since mostly all of the Indians were following Gandhi`s example of nonviolence. Along the way, Gandhi gained the respectful titles of “Bapu” and “Mahatma.”

Although you might think that he is the most influential person on earth, one of the most traumatic parts of Mahatma Gandhi`s life is his assassination. He was shot on January 30th, 1958 by Nathuram Vinayak Godse at Gandhi Smriti, formerly known as Birla House. He was on his way to a prayer meeting, when he was shot 3 times in the chest with a Berretta M1934 semi-automatic pistol by Nathuram Vinayak Godse. Godse was 39 years old when he was hanged for the terrible crime of killing the father of India`s independence. Many people protested and said that hanging a man would dishonor the memory of a man that fought for peace and unity. It is horribly sad to learn of so many people that resort to evil when they are so young, but no one can change that. Even Gandhi couldn`t change that! When Gandhi died, his last words are widely believed to be “Hey, Ram,” which is loosely translated to “Oh, God.”  According to Hindu tradition, your ashes are to be scattered on a river when you die. Gandhi`s ashes were separated and scattered in different spots, such as the source of the Nile River, the Girgaum Chowpatty, and a few other places.

Even though Gandhi was assassinated and we can no longer run to him for advice or consolation from our troubles and worries, we can still say to ourselves from time to time “What would Gandhi think?” If you put some thought into it, when you are having a problem deciding which is “right” and which is “wrong,” Gandhi`s example truly will help. Future adults will have to make hard decisions, such as whether to continue a war and fight to defend your country, or to issue peace, and have non-violent protests instead. If you did not follow the example of Gandhi, you would fight recklessly, without worry for death or injury. If you were good-hearted and kindly like Gandhi, you would most likely be peaceable, and try to make peace with the “enemy.” If no one had known about Gandhi, South Africa would still be discriminated, as Nelson Mandela wouldn`t have stepped up to the plate. If you think about it, even the blacks in the vast United States of America would be segregated without him, since even Martin Luther King Jr. wouldn’t have had the courage to make a change in the economy. Gandhi was the example for both of these historical figures, and yet, we learn less about him than about them.

As you know, many people have been inspired by the great Mahatma, and they have all turned out to be important or famous people. Why not follow his example? After all, everyone loves to be respected and famous! It`s a win-win. Of course, the world would be much better if there were no wars, and everyone was kind and friendly, but also you would be happy. Give a thought about the world`s future. Would it be better to have a peaceful planet with no quarrels, or would it be better to have a world that was always fighting? I think the answer is quite obvious. If anyone has a doubt, tell them to think “What would Gandhi say?” That will probably solve their problem.
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Sanyuktha Srikantha, Second Place, Grade 5, Bull Run ES Fairfax Co. Public Schools

Our Wonderful Mother Teresa

Who can I write about? Well, I know. She wears a white and a blue bordered sari. This woman is recognized for changing the lives of other people. She is Mother Teresa. Mother Teresa was born on August 26th, 1910 A.D. At the age of 12, she felt like she was a messenger from god. On September 5th 1997 A.D, she passed away. All the wonderful deeds she did were like a shooting star. That’s why Mother Teresa is remembered as a hero of peace today.

You may wonder why Mother Teresa is a champion of peace. Well, let me tell you what her major accomplishments are. Mother Teresa decided to sacrifice her life by helping the poor. She found a home for the poor and dying. She used an unused Hindu Temple as a Kalighat Home for the dying. She used to take people who are begging on the streets to her home. For all these efforts Mother Teresa did she received a lot of awards. In 1962, she was awarded the Padma Shri award. In 1972, she received the Jawaharlal Nehru award. In 1979, she received the Noble Peace Prize. In 1980, she was honored the Bharat Ratna. Mother Teresa has been rewarded with more awards later on. All these awards and accomplishments made her become a well-known leader.

Mother Teresa has wonderful qualities. She’s very kind to people even if they are poor. She treats them fairly. Mother Teresa is also loving and we know that for sure because she helped the poor by caring. She had the kindest heart to do anything just for the poor. She dedicated every day of her life caring for the dying, the mentally ill and the unloved. She loved every minute helping the poor and the mentally ill. Mother Teresa also cleaned and fed the poor. Mother Teresa was like a mother for the entire city of Calcutta (India).

Mother Teresa’s achievement has inspired me. I thought if we follow her examples we can make the world a better place. When I grow up I will help the poor just like Mother Teresa. I will send fliers to find out who is interested in helping my goals. Then I will choose people who are totally dedicated to changing the world. I will establish an organization and name it Peacocks. I chose the name, Peacocks, because the feathers make it an emblem of peace. We will go around D.C to estimate how many people are very poor. Peacocks will gather all the poor people and we will help them live in apartments. We will also construct schools and a tutoring centers. The schools are for the children to learn and the center will help adults. We will find a job for adults by introducing them to experiences or experts.

The Peacocks will definitely try to be another Mother Teresa. Our goals are to make sure that Washington D.C should not have any poor people. It should become like Bhutan, the happiest place on Earth. Why is Bhutan the happiest place on Earth? It’s because the government provides homes to people and has banned alcohol and smoking. I would like to make Washington D.C the next Bhutan. Our major goal is to change the lives of poor people. The Peacocks will become a hero in someone’s lives. If we follow Mother Teresa’s rules definitely the world will be happy.
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Sanjana Srikantha, Third Place, Grade 5, Bull Run ES, Fairfax Co. Public Schools

Peace Hero: Dalai Lama

My hero for peace is the Dalai Lama. I chose the Dalai Lama because he is a respectful person. The Dalai Lama got the Noble Peace Price in 1989. The Dalai Lama is a spiritual, religious and a political leader. He has got more awards and is also recognized as the “Man of Peace.”

The Dalai Lama is a wonderful peacemaker. The Dalai Lama has accomplished many things. One of his greatest accomplishments is getting the Nobel Peace Prize. His works and accomplishments included helping freedom issues in Tibet. The Dalai Lama’s achievements have helped Tibetan people establish the Tibetan government. Another achievement of the Dalai Lama is that he has been outspoken of the civil rights. The Dalai Lama has also written many spiritual books. The Dalai Lama’s books are about compassion and wisdom. The Dalai Lama has spent his life committed to benefit humanity. The Dalai Lama is also a respectful person.

There are so many qualities that helped the Dalai Lama to succeed. Respect is something important that the Dalai Lama gave importance to. The first quality is respect. An example of respect is not to exclude any kind of people. The second quality is leadership. An example of his leadership quality is Tibet should be an independent country and the Dalai Lama provides guidance for it. The last quality is humbleness. He is humble because he never brags about his achievements.

How can we follow the Dali Lama’s example in our lives and in our community? Well, we can give respect. How? We can treat people the same, no matter if their race, age, or religion is different. If I meet strangers, I should treat them the same way you treat your best friends or parents. Just be nice to each other.

“I speak to everyone in the same way, whether he is the garbage man or the president of the university,” said Albert Einstein. The Dalai Lama always wanted the world to be respectful. At school if students are from different religion or ethnicity, I will tell them to show respect to one another. I would like to establish a club that shows respect and treats everyone the same. We will work as a team to bring respect for everyone no matter what their race or religion is. My club name will be the Dalai Lama Club.
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Kyle Altermatt, Grade 4, Honorable Mention, Evergreen ES, Chesterfield Co. Public Schools

How I Could Change the World

Martin Luther King Jr. helped end segregation. He held numerous marches and protests. One of his most famous protests was the Montgomery bus boycott. We should all follow in Martin Luther King’s footsteps by not judging people by their race but by the content of their character.

One day I was driving downtown when I saw something that moved me entirely. I saw somebody on their hands and knees begging for food. This made me want to make a difference.

That weekend I started volunteering at a local food bank. My job was to sort the food. There must have been 100 different ways to sort the food! A few ways were by color, size, or even alphabetical order! A few hours later a person walked in and asked for some food. This made me feel so good inside that I was making a difference in my community. The following weeks I was still excited that I was making a difference but I still felt sad. When I went home I always saw someone asking for food. This made me want to donate more but that all stopped on one weekend. That weekend when I was stopping at traffic lights and stop signs I didn’t see anyone asking, let alone begging for food. I was as happy as a kid on Christmas morning! It made me so glad that I made a difference in my community.

This just proves that a little work in your community can go a long way. Don’t be afraid to change the world. It’s your world too.
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John Kelleher, Grade 4, Honorable Mention, Colonial Trail ES, Henrico Co. Public Schools

Nelson Mandela

The great peacemaker I chose for the 2014 Peace Essay is Nelson Mandela. Nelson Mandela was born on July 18, 1918 in a small village in Thembuland, South Africa. The name he was given when he was born was actually Rolihlahla which means “tree shaker” and also “troublemaker” which basically foreshadowed his entire life. This was so because he was seen by the government as a troublemaker and also made things happen in South Africa that almost nobody could do and shake the government to its core. Later in his life, he moved to a town more like ours today, and went to school there. This is where his teacher started calling him Nelson, and the name stuck. When he was attending the only all-black college in South Africa he became involved in debate and politics. By this time, Nelson began to realize how bad apartheid in South Africa was. Apartheid is basically when the white minority rules over the black majority. He started rallies against it and even led some sabotage against the government and was arrested because he was accused of 222 acts of sabotage. After surviving 27 years in prison, he was released by the South African President F.W. de Klerk on February 11th , 1990 at 4:15 pm, and went on to be elected the first South African president on May 10, 1994. He served as president for a five year term and then did many acts of kindness and helped people around the world. When Nelson Mandela died on December 3, 2013, the world missed one of its greatest peacemakers.

Nelson Mandela was one of the most impactful people in the world because he accomplished some of the greatest feats ever seen. Some reasons why are that he completely destroyed the idea of apartheid by hosting campaign rallies against apartheid and was looked at as a leader. He also became the first black president of South Africa. This was such a big deal because since the later 1600s, South Africa had been ruled by a white president and white minority (apartheid). Finally, he won the Noble Peace Prize. This accomplishment in some ways was surprising to some people because he was actually involved in violent acts of sabotage (he didn’t kill anybody) and rethought his ideas in jail and came out very peaceful. Nelson Mandela’s greatest feat was at last breaking through the color barrier in South Africa.

Nelson Mandela had several great qualities that helped him succeed in peacemaking. The first quality that helped him succeed was that he grew up under a chief in a tribe so he saw how words could move people. The second quality is that he was a great leader and was fearless of the consequences that may follow suite with protesting against apartheid. As I said before, he planned violent acts of sabotage, but he rethought his ideas to a peaceful, better way of handling things. Then lastly, after seeing the atrocities that made the black South Africans even madder, he saw that violence can’t truly solve anything, so he was completely against violent acts of protest because they would only make things worse.

Nelson Mandela is a man to admire, but can’t we all be like him? Well, we can easily if you do these simple things. First, you should always try to resolve conflict peacefully and not fight. Another way that we should follow his example is to not judge people on skin color, but what people are like on the inside. This reminds me of something another great peacemaker said. Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. said that we should not judge people based on the color of their skin, but rather on the content of their character. Lastly, we can all be a little more like Nelson Mandela by being open to new ideas and not think “Oh, that’s a bad idea” before you hear someone out.

Nelson Mandela’s legacy lives on in places all around the world. He along with other great peacemakers, have changed how we see each other as people. After doing this essay and learning about these great peacemakers, I have been inspired to stop fighting as much (especially with my little brother), and to try to resolve problems in more peaceful ways.


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Synia Morris, gr. 4, Honorable Mention, William Fox ES, Richmond Public Schools

Peace is the Key

“Fight with words, not fists.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

This quote is my favorite quote. It means that physically hurting someone will not get you further in life, but working your problems out with words will. These words made me think of an instance that just happened in my life.

I lived in place where people shot guns at each other and fought constantly. I knew that was the wrong way to solve problems.   When these things happened I felt unsafe and worried. One time my older sister was checking our mailbox when, “BOOM, BOOM, BOOM…!” two people were shooting at each other right there in the parking lot! My heart skipped a beat when the thought popped in my head: “my sister could be hurt!” When she opened the door and I saw her face, I felt a big relief! This is not the way Martin wanted people to act towards one another.

Martin was a kind and generous man. He was born into segregation. Segregation was a horrible law that separated people with different skin color. Martin didn’t understand why people with darker skin had to use a different water fountain and bathroom than white people. It was extremely unfair. As he grew older, he gave many speeches. If it weren’t for Martin’s speeches and marches; I wouldn’t have such amazing friends and such a diverse family!

Thanks to Martin, I’ve been able to go to school, play sports and even live with people from other cultures and backgrounds. For example, my friends and neighbors include people from Mexican, African American, Muslim, Asian and Jewish backgrounds! In fact, my sisters, brother and I wouldn’t even be here if the laws had not changed. My mother is white and my father is one quarter Cherokee. My baby sister’s father is African-American. My cousin and his family are Muslim. I feel so lucky to have such a different family! If everyone were the same, this world would be such a boring place!

Recently, I had to use what Martin taught in my own life. Last month, I had a conflict with a close friend. As the days went on we stopped hanging out as much as we used to. Next thing we knew, we weren’t talking to each other very much. Many weeks later, I finally decided to tell my Mom. “I wish you would have told me sooner”, she said as she hugged me tightly. Some people may have taken matters into their own hands and fought each other and never made up. But we both knew that wasn’t a peaceful choice. The next week, the school councilor came into our class and silently called us to her with her finger. As we walked down the hall to her office, we both knew what we had been called out for…With her help, we talked out our issue. Now we are inching our way back together as friends! I am proud of myself and my friend for how we solved our problem. I consider counselors great peacemakers, just like Martin!

When I try to make new friends I just am myself and I don’t focus on what they look like, I focus on their inner self! I think you should too!
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Kalakriti Pillai, Grade 4, Honorable Mention Colonial Trail ES, Henrico Co. Public Schools

Mahatma Gandhi

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the man who helped India gain independence, said “ an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind”. He meant the answer to violence is not more violence. All problems can be solved by non-violent methods. He is a great example of a peacemaker. The American Revolution which led to our country’s independence was fought through war and violence, whereas Mahatma Gandhi revolted against British rule in India by doing “Satyagraha” non-violently. The word “Satyagraha” comes from two Sanskrit words, “satya” means the truth and “agraha” means to hold on to. His policies inspired other great people to solve social injustice problems non-violently, such as Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King   Jr. If everyone followed Gandhi’s   principles, the world would be more peaceful than ever before. I respect this great man, and I hope others do so too!

Mahatma Gandhi was born on October 2nd, 1869 at Porbandar, India. As a child he was quite timid, and never showed any signs of what he would do in the future. He studied law in England because his family wanted him to become a lawyer. After training in England, he decided to go to South Africa to be a lawyer. While going to Pretoria, South Africa on a train he experienced his first taste of what the British thought of Indians. Even though he had a first class ticket he was ordered to sit in the compartment at the back because a white man refused to sit with him. He refused to move from his seat. He was thrown out of the train and had to spend a cold night at the train station. Mahatma Gandhi decided to stay and fight against racial discrimination in South Africa. He became the leader of the protests and developed his techniques of non-violent protests or “Satyagraha”.

By 1915, Mahatma Gandhi came back to India to fight for independence from Britain. He formed civil disobedience movements. The people of India would sit in the streets, boycotting things, not working, and other sorts of nonviolent protests. Gandhi was put in jail multiple times, but he fasted while in jail, so that the government would eventually have to release him. He protested through marches, such as the salt march, which protested the salt taxes. After many years of nonviolent protesting, India was finally free from Britain.

The main qualities that helped Mahatma Gandhi fight for independence were his empathy and non-violence. His empathy for others brought him to nurse the poor and sick. On the other hand, his non-violence suggested him to fight for independence peacefully. Gandhi had many other qualities, including faith and simplicity. His faith in truth showed him the way to realizing that India should be free from Britain. His simplicity led him to take only what he needed.

We can be like Mahatma Gandhi and help solve our communities’ problems non-violently instead of arguments. Mahatma Gandhi said, “When a man gives in to his anger, he harms himself” so, we should control our temper and be positive. Be truthful to yourself and fight your fears and insecurities. If we see someone who might need our help, we should help them! If we want something to change or go away, then, as Mahatma Gandhi says, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” We will be kind and generous, and we will be rewarded back for our behavior. We should live simple lives, and not take more than we need. We don’t need the latest clothes or a brand new car all the time. We should be happy with what we have. Last but not least, love our fellow human beings, and consider them as our friends. We will have no enemies that way. I hope we all will follow these terms, as Mahatma Gandhi did, and make the earth a more peaceful place.
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