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Peace Education

Rev. Sun Myung Moon Celebrates 90th Birthday in New York – and Seoul

New York, USA - The Founder of the Universal Peace Federation, the Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon celebrated his 90th birthday on January 31st. Twice, in fact. He and his wife, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, who share the same birth date according to the lunar calendar, were first honored in celebrations held in Seoul, Korea and then again after their arrival into New York City barely 15 hours later. Over 3,700 religious, diplomatic, and community leaders gathered to welcome them at the historic Hammerstein Ballroom in Manhattan.

Rev. and Mrs. Moon were both born in small towns in what is today North Korea, and Rev. Moon began his ministry in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang in 1946. He was arrested by communist authorities for preaching the gospel and sentenced to the notorious Heungnam concentration camp. The day before he was due to be executed, UN forces led by American troops liberated the prison, and he escaped to the southern port city of Busan, where he began his ministry once again at the height of the Korean war.

Rev. and Mrs. Moon were married in 1960, and now have 14 children and 46 grand and great-grandchildren. The family came to the United States in 1971, when he began a national evangelical effort aimed at restoring traditional American values. A highlight came in 1976 when he spoke on “America and God’s Will” before a crowd of 300,000 at the Washington Monument.

In recent times Rev. and Mrs. Moon, their family and the many organizations they have founded have been focusing on an interreligious effort to renew the United Nations. In a congratulatory message, former UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali saluted Rev. Moon for “ninety years of rich achievement for the peace and welfare of all humanity bringing together people of diverse racial, religious, ethnic, national and cultural backgrounds.”

Congratulatory remarks were also offered by Dr. Julio Maria Sanguinetti, former President of Uruguay. Goodwill messages were received from more than 40 US governors, senators and congressmen, as well as over 300 greetings from senior statesmen and women around the world.

The Hon. Raila Odinga, Prime Minister of Kenya, whose wife Mrs. Ida Odinga represented him in New York, said in a prepared statement that Rev. Moon’s principles of conflict resolution had helped them  to find a peaceful solution in that nation’s recent post-election conflict.

Rev. and Mrs. Moon are also working to create a culture of service to address the UN Millennium Development Goals, and most importantly to strengthen marriages and families as a long-term solution to hunger, poverty, and racial strife. The day’s festivities concluded with the International Marriage Blessing of over 200 couples from around the world, including many children of the first generation of members who started working with Rev. Moon in the 1970s.

In a short message, Rev. Moon offered thanks to God for having protected him throughout his life, and called for a moral and spiritual revival to bring a new age of peace. “If the world can come together as ’One Family under God,’ the Creator,” he said, “all our other problems will be solved. But first we must eradicate selfishness and greed, starting with ourselves.”

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