WESTPORT — “The philosophy underlying the United Nations is the philosophy of one world,” Bill Hass, President of the United Nations Association of Southwestern Connecticut said at the United Nations Day Celebration.

The annual Oct. 24 event commemorates the birthday of the United Nations (U.N.) founding charter signed on the same day in 1945. A former U.N. employee and Westport resident, Hass said the U.N. is the only major cross-national institution that promotes solutions to problems that cross borders, such as international drug-trafficking and the refugee crisis.

“When we think about these refugees, people coming from Mexico on the caravan, we could be in their position ourselves. We’re just lucky we were born in this country and live in a very beautiful area and have a lot of blessings,” Hass told the crowd of about 20 people gathered for the celebration in Westport Town Hall.

Hass read a statement from current U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres that Hass said is more relevant this year than ever before. “Conflicts are multiplying, people are suffering, but we don’t give up because we know every man, woman and child deserves a life of peace,” the statement read.

Resident Aye Aye Thant, the daugther of Burma native U Thant who served as the U.N. Secretary General from 1961 to 1971, quoted from a speech her father gave in 1966. “[Aggressive nationalism] feeds on fear, on the propaganda of hate and ideological antagonism, and on the intolerable presumption that the world should be remade in its own image. Aggressive nationalism produces a breakdown of understanding and communication,” Thant said.

Touting Westport’s substantial expatriate community and the many U.N. employees who’ve called the town home over the years, First Selectman Jim Marpe proclaimed Oct. 24, 2018 United Nations Day in Westport.

Before the ceremony, Staples High School senior Taylor Barr, President of the high school’s Model U.N. club, helped raise the U.N. flag outside of Town Hall. “To develop into an effective leader, one needs to cultivate the art of diplomacy, negotiation, a mastery of communications, and convey approachability, all skills and attributes Model United Nations activities build and nurture,” Barr said.

svaughan@hearstmediact.com; 203-842-2638; @SophieCVaughan1