The First Government Sponsored Photo Exhibit of Falun Dafa in the U.S.
November 30, 2001 was a special day in Monroe County, New York. The photo exhibit, "Truth, Compassion, and Tolerance - the Journey of Falun Dafa", organized by local Falun Gong practitioners and Friends of Falun Gong, and sponsored by the County of Monroe and the Greater Rochester International Airport (GRIA), opened at 10am at the Airport. This is the first government sponsored photo exhibit of Falun Dafa in the United States. The exhibit will be on display until January 4, 2002. The County Executive Jack Doyle cut the ribbon for the exhibit.
"Monroe County is very pleased to host this unique and moving exhibit at the airport," said Mr. Doyle in his opening remarks. "In 1776, our great nation was founded with religious freedom as a cornerstone of our democracy and this exhibit shows how that most basic civil right remains unfulfilled in a totalitarian state in 2001." Mr. Doyle proclaimed December 2001 to be "Truth, Compassion, and Tolerance Month" to encourage the community to recognize these principles and local Falun Gong practitioners. He read and presented the proclamation to a local Falun Gong practitioner and the regional director of the Friends of Falun Gong.
More than 50 photos are displayed at the month-long exhibition, documenting the journey of Falun Dafa over the past nine years. These photos capture the beginning of Falun Dafa's public introduction in 1992, by its founder, Mr. Li Hongzhi, and its ever-growing popularity as people from all walks of life discovered greater health and spiritual well-being through this traditional Chinese self-cultivation practice. They also offer rare insights into the brutal persecution. Leaders of the totalitarian Chinese regime have done everything in their defame and destroy the practice of Falun Dafa since July 20, 1999. It documents how Falun Dafa practitioners, both inside and outside of China, have displayed uncommon courage and inner strength because of their deeper understanding of the principles of "Truth, Compassion, and Tolerance". They have been able to withstand this state-sanctioned campaign of terror in a completely peaceful and nonviolent manner. The exhibit also includes samples of the international community's support of Falun Gong and Falun Gong practitioners, and its condemnation of the evil persecution.
One of the guests of honor was Ms. Sandra Frankel, Town Supervisor of Brighton, who has become a good friend and a strong supporter. She read the proclamation from the Town board, proclaiming December 2001 to be "Truth, Compassion, and Tolerance Month" in Brighton. The Town of Greece and the Village of Fairport also issued proclamations, but were not able to attend due to previous commitments. State Senator Dollinger from 54th District also issued a proclamation.
Regional Director of the Friends of Falun Gong, Rev. Kenneth Brooks, Ph.D, dedicated a special oil painting to raise awareness of the brutal persecution in China. Dr. Brooks is a highly accomplished artist. This painting is titled, "Dark Circus II", symbolizing the perverted power of totalitarism.
Ms. Mary Eaton from Congresswoman Slaughter's office and Mr. Chris Dygert of Amnesty International Rochester Chapter attended the ceremony as well. Major local media covered the opening ceremony.
A local Falun Gong practitioner spoke at the ceremony. On behalf of all practitioners, especially those in China who have lost their freedom and their voice, she expressed heartfelt appreciation to the County, the Airport, and others who have offered support and good will.
"We hope that this exhibit will inspire and bring together people in our community to celebrate peace, health, and hope through global unity and international solidarity. Let us sing along, 'Truth, Compassion, and Tolerance', with kindness, virtue, and dignity; let us sing along with our hearts and fill our earth with peace, sincerity, and harmony."
More than twenty practitioners traveled from Toronto the night before to help set up the exhibit. Many others also traveled long hours to celebrate this special event. A family of musicians drove 6 hours from New Jersey and played beautiful music, including a soul-stirring piece called "Pu Du" which means “Saving People”. The parents, for 30 years before their retirement has been members of China's most prestigious orchestra, the Central Philharmonic Orchestra. A female practitioner from Toronto presented a vocal performance - De Du, which means “Being Saved” composed by Dafa practitioners. The beautiful Dafa music and songs moved many to tears.
Rosemerry, the owner of the book store right across the exhibition, was deeply touched by the sprit of Falun Gong practitioners and immediately started to promote Falun Gong books in her store.
The director of Aviation for Greater Rochester International Airport, Mr.Terrence Slaybaugh extend his support on behalf of the Falun Gong Traveling Exposition. He wrote:
“The exhibit, organized by local Falun Gong practitioners, is a unique collection of photographs that demonstrate the courage and inner strength of its practitioners based on the principles of Truth, Compassion, and Tolerance.
The Airport has provided a unique venue to showcase this collection to the many travelers and meeters and greeters who frequent the facility. It has also afforded the community an educational opportunity on the spiritual and meditative practices of Falun Gong.
I would recommend that this exhibit continue to travel to other airports throughout the United States and Canada.”