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This could be the perfect year for a drive to the International Peace Garden in North Dakota for a couple of reasons. First, there's been a lot of nervousness about U.S. borders recently. What better reassurance than visiting the world's longest unfortified border - specifically at the site that vows, "We two nations dedicate this garden and pledge ourselves that as long as men shall live we will not take up arms against one another.''

A second, more mundane reason is that after a winter like the one we've just been through, there's a strong appeal to a place that boasts 150,000 to 160,000 flowers. That's "the nearest we can figure" according to International Peace Garden horticulturalist Connie Lagerquist.

The International Peace Garden celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2007. Nearly 50,000 people showed up for the dedication, and thousands still come to visit every year. The first structure was a cairn constructed of native stone - many of those stones collected for the cairn by school children - flanked by the U.S. flag and Great Britain's Union Jack. The Canadian Maple Leaf flag made its appearance in 1965. The flags are also recreated in flowers inside the Peace Garden - the only floral exhibit that doesn't change from year to year. You will also see thousands of roses and a "Floral Clock" 18 feet in diameter that is surrounded flowers.

The flora are attention-getting, but the recurring theme of the International Peace Garden is, well, peace. The four columns of the Peace Tower stand 120 feet high and represent the "soaring ambitions" of early settlers. The walls of the Peace Chapel are inscribed with quotes by people of peace. The seven Peace Poles convey the message "May Peace Prevail on Earth" in a total of 28 languages. A recent addition to the International Peace Garden is a sculpture called "Recall, Reflect, Remember," constructed of 10 steel girders from the World Trade Center.

The Interpretive Center provides a history of the Peace Garden that offers important lessons about the 20th Century. The early years of the Peace Garden coincided with the depths of the Great Depression. Much of the initial work was done by members of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), a work relief program that was a cornerstone of Roosevelt's New Deal. After World War II, the governments of the U.S. and Canada had reason to rededicate themselves to the image of peace, and the garden grew as a result.

During the summer, the Peace Garden offers music and children's programming, making this a great destination for many generations of visitors.

From the Twin Cities, the road trip to the Peace Garden is a little over 500 miles. Consider an overnight stop in either Fargo-Moorhead or Grand Forks. Mapquest will tell you to stay on Interstate 29 all the way to Cavalier, N.D., heading west on US 281. Consider instead heading west from Grand Forks on US 2. That will take you to Latitude 48 21' 19" longitude 99 59 57 West-a.k.a. the exact center of the North American continent. There is a stone monument marking the spot in Rugby, N.D. Rugby also boasts a 110-foot tall "Northern Lights Tower," with multicolored steel beams that are lit at night. If you are lucky and willing to drive through the prairie after dark, you may be able to see a real display of the Aurora Borealis as you head north.

At www.peacegarden.com, you'll find maps and directions, an events calendar and a children's page. You can also get information by calling toll free: (888) 432-6733. For more information visit www.rugbynorthdakota.com