The Peace Garden was conceived by almost 73-year-old peace advocate Polly Underwood in 1991 in memory of her husband, an avid gardener. The Borough gave her use of a patch of scraggly land adjacent to a parking lot in in Veteran’s Memorial Park. In 1999 the garden received a $15,000 grant from the state and Jill Hudock, an artist and newlt-minted master gardener, took over its management and transformed it from four trees, a path and a peace pole into a community treasure.
The peace pole with the words “May Peace Prevail on Earth” in English, Spanish, Russian and Vietnamese, topped by a dove that started life as part of a donated weather vane. There is a “Gandhi stone” engraved with the words “We must be the change we wish to see in the world.” A bridge was installed on Polly’s 88th birthday, “To bridge misunderstandings in the pursuit of peace was her legacy. To cross over from a tough day to a better one, that was her plan.” There are a few statues, but the main stars are the plants. The garden is a gem, and has won the Pennsylvania Horticulture Society Award for Outstanding Public Planting and Improving Community Life.
It is maintained by volunteers: the Rotary and Lion’s clubs, crews of probationers working out their community service, youth groups. Shippensburg is a college town in central Pennsylvania, 41 miles southwest of Harrisburg, the State Capital, which also has a beautiful peace garden.