At the June 11 celebration of JRPC’s 30 years, and Jeannette Rankin’s birthday, a Declaration naming Betsy Mulligan-Dague as Peacemaker of the Decade was presented to her by members of the Missoula peacemaking community. On Monday, June 13 I had the pleasure of meeting Betsy at the Peace Park to determine the exact spot where she would like to have a bench in her honor placed. It was installed on Thursday between the two pine trees, west of the rock wall and bell.
As a member of the JRPC Coordinating Council from 2002 to 2011, and an active participant in JRPC activities since then, I have become increasingly amazed, appreciative, and admiring of Betsy’s dedication to peace, her constant attention to Gandhi’s advice to “Be the change that you wish to see in the world,” and her courage in approaching people with opposing views, most recently those opposing refugee resettlement in Missoula. Jan Selby’s documentary, Beyond the Divide, (available at the Olive Branch) movingly portrays Betsy’s courageous peacemaking.
In 2005, when JRPC was in financial difficulty and could not pay staff, Betsy, who was then a member of the Coordinating Council, volunteered to act as Director without pay. She served in that capacity for four months
, and now, over ten years later, continues to build programs and collaborate with other groups so the library/meeting room is a lively place of peace and understanding. Betsy has been nominated for Peacemaker of the Year more than once, but as Director of JRPC, has refused to be considered. Members of Missoula’s many peace groups – Women in Black, Peace Knitters, Missoula Peace Quilters, Veterans for Peace, Missoula Women for Peace, Peacemakers of the Year, and past and present Coordinating Council members – responded positively to the idea of honoring Betsy as Peacemaker of the Decade, with a bench in the Peace Park. In fact, people were so enthusiastic and generous, that we were able to also donate $200 to JRPC in her honor, hopefully to be used on Peace Park projects.
If you are one of the many people who would have liked to contribute but were inadvertently missed in the contacts loop, I apologize. If you wish to join now in honoring Betsy, contributions to JRPC in her honor will be very appropriate and welcome. Donations of your time as volunteers are also appreciated. Also, although the bench is now installed, the plaque, “Be the Change…” will not be installed until early July. At that time we hope to have a gathering, and we’ll be sure to let you know the details. Thank you to all who helped to honor Betsy.