The Imagine Peace Tower, a memorial to John Lennon conceived by Yoko Ono, is lit every year on October 9. The artwork has the form of a wishing well, shooting a ray of light high into to the sky from October 9, Lennon’s birth date, to December 8, the day when John was shot in New York City. The work is an ode to the song Imagine and the words “Imagine Peace” are written on the tower in 24 languages, as its aim is to spread the message of world peace. It is situated on Viðey, an island just off the Reykjavík coast, allowing people in Reykjavík to enjoy the view.
Why was Iceland chosen?
Iceland was chosen as the location for the beam for a number of reasons. For one, the whole country is covered in darkness for months on end, so it really is a visual spectacle that everyone can enjoy. Iceland is also a fitting setting in another way, as the country has been named the most peaceful nation on Earth many times. There is also an abundance of cheap and renewable energy to power the installation. Iceland really is the perfect spot for the Imagine Peace Tower.
The Imagine Peace Tower
The Imagine Peace Tower (Friðarsúlan, in Icelandic) is situated on the island of Viðey just off the coast of Reykjavík. A white stone monument – containing 15 searchlights with prisms that act as mirrors – the light from the tower extends upward at least 4000 metres on a clear night. The words “Imagine Peace” are inscribed on the monument in 24 languages.
Buried underneath the tower are over one million handwritten wishes that Ono culled for the sake of another project (Wish Trees). The tower is lit every year from October 9th (Lennon’s birthday) through December 8th (the date of his assassination).
Construction of the Imagine Peace Tower began October 9th, 2006. It was officially unveiled precisely one year later (October 9th, 2007). The unveiling ceremony received international attention and was broadcast to numerous television networks around the world. In attendance with Ono were son Sean Lennon; band mate Ringo Starr; Olivia Harrison, George Harrison’s widow; and Olivia’s son Dhani Harrison. Paul McCartney could not attend due to a court case. On the day of the dedication, Ono remarked that the “tower was the best thing that she and John had ever done.”
John Lennon was assassinated in 1980 by Mark David Chapman outside the former’s residence at the Dakota apartment building in Manhattan. Chapman, who received a sentence of 20 years to life, is currently incarcerated at the Wende Correctional Facility in Erie, County, New York. He has been eligible for parole since 2000 (he has been denied parole 10 times).
A Message from Yoko Ono
Every year, in the days leading up to the rekindling of the Imagine Peace Tower, Yoko Ono pens a message to the world on the monument’s official website. This year, the message is simple. Peace is Power (see below).
“On October 9th 2019, IMAGINE PEACE TOWER will be relit in Reykjavík, Iceland, in memory of my late husband John Lennon, on the occasion of his 79th birthday.
I hope you will join us in celebrating the relighting of IMAGINE PEACE TOWER in Iceland, on this website and around the world. Remember, each one of us has the power to change the world. Power works in mysterious ways. We don’t have to do much. Visualize the domino effect and just start thinking PEACE. Thoughts are infectious. Send it out. The message will circulate faster than you think.
It’s Time for Action.Yoko Ono Lennon, September 1, 2019
The Action is PEACE
Think PEACE, Act PEACE, Spread PEACE
PEACE is POWER!
Thank you, thank you, thank you
I love you!