On May 19, participants in the International Children’s Military Historical Assembly Eternal Flame 2017 at Artek adopted a Children for Peace Declaration. The assembly was attended by children from 35 countries. Each of Artek’s nine camps proposed phrases or words that are associated with peace, such as hope, friendship, memory, victory, responsibility, appeal, unity and action.
Artek Director Alexei Kasprzhak addressed the closing ceremony of the assembly. He expressed confidence that the distinguishing feature of a citizen, both child and adult, is responsibility to themselves, their families, friends and the country.
“You have signed a declaration, which is not just putting your signature on paper. It is an act of great responsibility. What can we do today for a peaceful tomorrow, so that children from Syria and other countries can come here? I believe the recipe is very simple: everyone wants to live a little better every day, and everyone can make this small contribution towards this end. This contribution does not need to be a military feat. Our contribution can come in the form of our daily work, what we like to do and what we cannot live without. I wish you the ability to change this world for the better little by little every day. This will make our world more peaceful,” Kasprzhak said.
The final document of the project, the declaration covers the values and goals of this generation and reflects the children’s confidence that the heroism of their predecessors will never be forgotten and also their readiness to serve their Homeland. The main provisions of the declaration were formulated by representatives from the Eternal Flame Assembly, including children from Syria and France who came to Artek as part of this program. Students from the Moscow school of the Russian Foreign Ministry and from the Orlyonok Russian Children’s Center contributed to the declaration during a skype conference call.
“Both children and adults must think about peace,” said Hassan Shahhoud from Hama, Syria, who actively contributed to the declaration. “In my home country, we also try to think about peace. When we return home from Artek, we will teach the younger generation to live in peace. Artek is a wonderful center. Here, I saw what it means to live in peace. I liked everything here, but especially the nature and the overall atmosphere. I have many friends here, and all of them are very friendly, open and sincere people. This is what makes the world better.”
Rinata Timerbayeva from Ufa, the capital city of Bashkortostan, believes the declaration is a very important document. “Our declaration about peace is not mere words,” Rinata said. “I am convinced that we can make this world a better and kinder place. We can tell our friends back in our home cities and schools that we can do more than just study, that we can do more for our countries already now. We should help others think about their responsibility for a peaceful future of their country.”
“We will grow up very soon, and our future depends on us,” said Vitaly Andriyevsky from the Ivanovo Region. “It was great to meet kids from Syria and France here at Artek. I didn’t think I could make Syrian friends without speaking their language, but we have become the best of friends. We see no boundaries between our countries. I believe that it is we, the children, that can bring all nations together. This is what our declaration is all about.”
This is what Denis Karamushko from Bryansk thinks about peace: “It is important to think not just about yourself and your interests, but also about other people and about what they want. If all people respect each other, there will be happiness and peace.”
During their session, children took part in the educational program of the Assembly and co-authored a book of Assembly participants titled The Crown of Memory, which covers all the main educational events and helps children learn more about their past, better understand their present and project their future as an integral part of their country’s future, as well as to think about their place in their country’s history. This book, which children will take home from Artek, will help them carry on the idea of the Eternal Flame 2017 Assembly in their home regions and schools.
The agenda of the Assembly included debates during which children searched for answers to perennial questions such as, What should you think about this or that historical fact? Do you need to know the history of your country, family and region? How to preserve the memory of the past generations and how to pass it on? How to preserve peace on earth? The children who distinguished themselves at the key events of the Assembly received special awards, including a two-volume History of the Great Patriotic War 1941-1945 and the book titled History as Told by the People, which received a national prize in the Best Books and Publishers 2016 category.
Sergei Smirnov, Deputy Director General of the Socio-Cultural Initiatives Foundation, congratulated the Assembly winners and participants on behalf of the Foundation’s President, Svetlana Medvedeva. He thanked the Artek International Children’s Center for inviting the best representatives from Russia’s military patriotic clubs for the second year in a row, which made such sessions unique not only for the program participants but also for all children at Artek.
“Children have learned a great deal during this session; they also shared their experiences and I hope they will not easily forget the respect they had for each other or their interest in history. I hope that they will share the knowledge they have acquired at Artek with their peers at their schools,” Sergei Smirnov said.
The International Children’s Military Historical Assembly Eternal Flame 2017 convened children from 35 Russian regions who are studying the history of Russia and their regions and are involved in the volunteer search and archival work. These children represent children’s public movements such as Russian Cossacks, the Volunteer Search Movement, the DOSAAF Rossii volunteer society of assistance to the army, air force and navy of Russia, the Yunarmia (Young Army) Youth Military Patriotic Public Movement, the Russian Military History Society, and the Russian Movement of School Students, Cadet Corps and Military Patriotic Clubs.