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Demolition of Peace Towers to begin this winter

INTERNATIONAL PEACE GARDEN--As the International Peace Garden prepares to demolish its iconic 120-foot monument that has connected the U.S. and Canada for three decades, another sculpture symbolizing two centuries of peace between the two countri...

INTERNATIONAL PEACE GARDEN--As the International Peace Garden prepares to demolish its iconic 120-foot monument that has connected the U.S. and Canada for three decades, another sculpture symbolizing two centuries of peace between the two countries will be dedicated at the garden today.

The "Promise of Peace" sculpture, donated by the Wally Byam Caravan Club International, will be placed at 9:30 a.m. in the fountain at the east end of the Formal Garden. Sculpted by Art Norby of New London, Minn., the 6-foot statue features two hands releasing a dove, International Peace Garden CEO Garry Enns said.

The "Promise of Peace" replaces an abstract sculpture dubbed "Hands of Peace," which was donated by the Wally Byam club in 1975. After 20 years of sustaining erosion from weather, that statue was removed.

Though others have donated statues to the International Peace Garden, Enns said the "Promise of Peace" is fairly unique as it is meant to reflect the history between the U.S. and Canada.

"We do look for examples of work that we can (use to) help showcase what our purpose and mission is, which is obviously to encourage people to understand that we--Canada and the United States of America--have been at peace for more than 200 years now," he said Tuesday. "It is quite possible for two great countries to live side by side and not have to fight."

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The "Promise of Peace" is not meant to replace the Peace Towers, which still stand at the garden but are slated for demolition this winter. The four towers making up the 120-foot monument--two each on the Canadian and U.S. sides of the border--were completed in the early 1980s to mark the 50th anniversary of the garden's dedication in 1932.

The towers have connected Manitoba and North Dakota for more than 30 years, but erosion has worn on the concrete monument so much that it has begun to fall apart. Deemed unsafe to the public due to falling debris, the towers have been fenced off, and demolition must be completed by June 2017.

"I do know that the engineering firm that is looking after (the towers') deconstruction is looking for contractors, is beginning to identify ways in which to bring the towers down," Enns said.

Solicitations for ideas to what will replace the monument have been sent out, he said. Ideas for the future monument are due by the end of the month, but it could take several years before visitors will see the final product, he added.

Whatever replaces the towers will portray the International Peace Garden's mission, Enns said.

"The purpose of the organization is to foster and give protection and support to the material expression of a world idea concerned in the interest of international peace and its benefits humanity," the mission statement states.

The International Peace Garden, which sees about 50,000 to 100,000 visitors each year, covers about 2,300 acres in the U.S. and Canada. Known for its vast use of flowers and plants, the garden is about 20 miles north of Dunseith, N.D.

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