E.C. (Eugene Clarence) Warriner (1866-1945) was the 4th President of Central Michigan University from 1918-1939. Warriner was actively involved in the pre-WWI Peace Movement to which the Pro Concordia Labor flag is connected. On October 28, 1910, when he was Superintendent of Saginaw Public Schools, Warriner organized the Michigan branch of the American School Peace League. Charles Grawn, CMU’s 3rd president, served as Vice President of the League. The American School Peace League was a national network of public school teachers, administrators and students who were committed to education about the ‘peace through law’ movement that flowered at the 1899 Hague Peace Conference and blossomed with the opening of the Peace Palace in The Hague in 1913, just one year prior to the outbreak of World War I in Europe. The 1899 and 1907 Hague Peace Conferences created international legal machinery to humanize and, ideally, eliminate armed conflict. We still use this machinery today, though it has been updated.
The American School Peace League - including the Michigan chapter that Warriner convened - sponsored essay competitions, distributed peace education curricula, and supplied materials for the celebration of Peace Day, May 18, which was recognized because it was the day on which the 1899 Hague Peace Conference opened. Throughout WW1 and as President of CMU, E.C. Warriner remained actively involved in the Peace Movement. In 1923, his CMU commencement address was entitled “The Outlook for Peace.”
E.C. Warriner has an extensive archive at Central Michigan University’s Clarke Historical Library. View the finding aid for this archive here.
Central Michigan University first raised the Peace Flag in front of Warriner Hall in May 2015. It continued that tradition on May 18, 2016 in commemoration of Peace Day. In 2017, CMU raised the flag on April 7 to commemorate the centenary of the U.S. entry into World War I - which was supposed to “end all wars.” Ironically, the Conscription Act, which drafted American men into World War 1, was enacted on May 18, 1917. This undoubtedly helped to erase the memory of Peace Day and the pre-WWI Peace Movement. The raising of the flag on April 7, 2017 also marked the 23rd anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, which began on April 7, 1994 and lasted for three tragic months. The Rwandan genocide was a watershed moment which further developed the peace through law movement including the maturation of jurisprudence connected to the crime of genocide, and the creation of the International Criminal Court. In April 2018, CMU raised the flag to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Presidency of E.C. Warriner, the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., and to wish Godspeed to CMU’s 14th President, Dr. George E. Ross who stepped down in July 2018. Under President Ross’ leadership, CMU began raising the Peace Flag as a means of providing education about the peace activism and cosmopolitanism of President Warriner and other moments involving international ethics. CMU raised the flag in April 2019 for several reasons: to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Korea’s non-violent, democratic uprising of March 1, 1919; the 100th anniversary of the formal end of World War I; the 150th anniversary of the birth of Gandhi, who championed the idea of satyagraha or “Truth Force” which would later inspire Martin Luther King Jr; and lastly to welcome CMU’s 15th President, Dr. Robert O. Davies to the CMU family.
CMU’s raising of the Pro Concordia Labor flag helps us to excavate untold stories of peace history and bring them from darkness into light. In remembering these stories, we harness their moral energy and better able to meaningfully connect to the past and to each other . We pay heed to international lawyer Rafael Lemkin (1900-1959) who said: “the function of memory is not only to register past events, but to stimulate human conscience.”