Origination and History of the Greater Tacoma Peace Prize
The Greater Tacoma Peace Prize recognizes and honors peacemakers from the Tacoma/Pierce County region. First awarded in 2005 during the Centennial celebration of Norway’s independence, the award has its roots in Norwegian-American culture. The award also has roots in war.
The year 2005 marked the 100th anniversary of Norway becoming a free and self-governing nation. After hundreds of years of rule by Denmark and Sweden, the independence of Norway was re-established. To mark this occasion members of the Norwegian American community in Pierce County began meeting in 2004 to plan a celebration. Among the many participants was Tom Heavey, president of Norden Lodge of the Sons of Norway and a recently returned Iraq war veteran.
The committee discussed what is unique about the Norwegian experience. Norwegian-Americans are among the last of the older immigrant groups to keep the ties to their homeland. What is unique about Norway? It occupies a special place among the modern Nations of this world.
Norway’s uniqueness comes from its dedication to PEACE. Norway is the superpower of peace in the modern world. Wherever peace is breaking out you will find Norwegians. Across the globe the Norwegian government and citizens undertake a variety of roles at the center of peace efforts, doing the yeoman’s work.
Mr. Heavey advanced the idea of a “Peace Prize,” awarded by the Norwegian American community. Modelled after the Nobel Prize for Peace, which is awarded by the Norwegian Nobel Committee, the Greater Tacoma Peace Prize was established by a committee of members from the three largest Norwegian American institutions in the county (Sons of Norway, Daughters of Norway, and Pacific Lutheran University).
The first Greater Tacoma Peace Prize was awarded on May 17, 2005 (Norwegian Constitution Day). It has been awarded annually since.
Recipients of the Peace Prize are given a banquet in their honor, a medallion, a diploma, a unique piece of glass art honoring their accomplishments, and a trip for two to Norway to attend the festivities surrounding the awarding of the Nobel Prize for Peace.