Something truly remarkable happened on Christmas Day in 1914. It was the fifth of 51 months of World War I, and chemical warfare brought a new kind of fear to the battlefield. But on this celebratory day, soldiers on both sides went against their order and decided to have not just a truce, but a party.
French and German soldiers crossed the trenches and danced with one another. Some exchanged gifts and some even played games of soccer. It’s a striking image of man’s ability to see beyond differences and bring peace into action. It’s one that gives Mike Posner goosebumps.
“If those men could create peace against all odds on that day,” the singer-songwriter and producer reflects, “amid one of the most brutal conflicts in human history — why can’t all of us do that for one day?”
Today, Posner takes his question from the rhetorical into the real world with a little help from his fellow artists, friends and the rest of us. He wrote a collaborative poem of sorts that sees himself and other celebrities pledging to make peace with someone, and asking you to do the same. It is to be presented a a special moment at this weekend’s iHeartRadio festival, in association with DNA testing company 23andMe — in honor of the United Nation’s International Peace Day, in association with non-profit organization Peace One Day.
“It’s a call to action for the artists and the people around the world to show more love, more understanding and more compassion,” Posner says. “The folks at iHeart 23andMe, they’re busy enough throwing a huge festival, running a huge company. For them to take time out to create this moment celebrating peace is really beautiful. All the artists who have participated in this message for peace are all very busy artists. There’s no shortage of people asking them to do stuff. I just feel proud to be a part of that team.”
It all started when he made friends with Jeremy Gilley, the founder of non-profit organization Peace One Day. He was moved by the mission, and when he realized International Peace Day landed on the same day as iHeartRadio’s annual music festival in Las Vegas, he knew he had to connect the two.
“I think there was a desire on everybody’s part to pull something together,” says Bob Pittman, Chairman and CEO of iHeartMedia. “I don’t want to overstate it, but I and John [Sykes, iHeart President of Entertainment Enterprises] were at MTV when ‘We Are The World’ came out, and this is the ‘We Are The World’ for the digital generation. Pulling these people together from such diverse backgrounds and interests to talk about peace — people who are really icons and thought leaders and have such strong followings — I think is very powerful.”
“The artists are always the ones that can amplify what’s going on in culture,” Sykes continues. “When they step up, and when you see this piece that they put together, it’s remarkable.”
Pittman and Sykes agree the message of unity that Peace One Day hopes to send is mirrored in the smaller scale of iHeartRadio Music Festival. In 2018, it welcomes headliners Justin Timberlake, Fleetwood Mac, Childish Gambino, Jack White, Mariah Carey and more onto one stage to perform together for fans of all ages and walks of life. Festival partner 23andMe also reflects this message, scientifically proving that all humans are — for all genetic intents and purposes — pretty much the same. We’re 99.5 percent identical on the inside. Only .5 percent makes us unique.
It’s everyone involved’s hope that today, we can set aside those cultural divides and celebrate what we have in common, like those soldiers on Christmas Day, 1914.
“In my life most of my hard work has been for myself, to make myself more famous or more money,” Posner says. “It’s really nice and refreshing to be a part of a project that’s for the greater good and not a part of myself. I hope the other people involved feel the same way, and hats off to the people like Jeremy Gilley who do that every day.”
The Peace One Day initiatives continues all weekend long at iHeartRadio Music Festival. Fans are asked to share their own stories of peace and togetherness on social media with #PeaceDay. Some of those stories will be shared in a special presentation of 23andMe’s Spit podcast. The whole event will be streamed on iHeartRadio and telecasted on the CW. Learn more about the iHeartRadio Festival and the Peace One Day organization online, and try to spread love in all your actions today and forever more.