From the entrance of LewisGale Hospital, a bright-red, white and blue light is visible in the distance.
It is a peace symbol, built by Salem’s own Allan Tuck, in lieu of traditional Christmas lights.
Tuck grew up in Salem, where he was a member of Andrew Lewis High School’s last graduating class, and has lived nearby his entire life. Now, he lives at Chateau Riviera Apartments in Salem, where he attached the symbol to his back deck.
With the death of Alison Parker and Adam Ward, two young journalists who were murdered on live television in August, and the terror attacks in Paris and California, Tuck said 2015 has been a particularly hard year.
“I met Chris Hurst down on the market last year, and he’s a heck of a good guy,” Tuck said. “It’s for him. It’s for Adam and Alison and their families…It’s for every country that is fighting this ugliness. It’s for everybody.”
Tuck said said at Christmastime, he wants to send a message to those hurting that there is always hope.
“It’s a fitting time for it. I was inspired to build it because of all the meanness and ugliness going on in the world,” Tuck said. “I think anybody can relate to that nowadays.”
The symbol has been up for nearly two weeks, and Tuck doesn’t plan on taking it down anytime soon. For the design, he had to be innovative.
“It was a lot of trial and error,” Tuck said, laughing. “I went through a lot of rubber bands and duct tape, wire and hula hoops.”
Tuck said it took him close to a week to make the symbol, which is the circumference of two hula hoops. With a little help from an apartment maintenance worker, who cut wall furring strips for Tuck, the symbol began to take shape.
The result is something magnificent, especially at night.
“When you get to the parking garage, say if you’re coming from 419, you can see it this far down. It just shines,” said Janet Slusher, Tuck’s girlfriend. “I said Allan, I’m not sure you can’t see it from space! The closer you get, it just looks like a humongous one.”
“We can not believe how beautiful it turned out,” Slusher added. “We believe it is sort of a God thing, because there is some divine intervention there. The lights are perfectly spaced. I think he had some help from upstairs.”
Tuck said the idea has been lingering in his mind since the summer when he first moved into his new apartment.
“We were at Kmart and I saw the hula hoops, and that got my wheels turning about how big I wanted it,” he said. “The Christmas lights came out, and that was it.”
“The reaction has been very positive,” Tuck said. “Some people have said it’s the neatest thing they’ve ever seen. People have slowed down and pointed. People at Kroger have noticed, and the guys on the helicopter have seen it a couple of times.”
Tuck said living in a way that demonstrates peace and acceptance has always been close to his heart.
“When I was raising my children, I always told them you will never meet anybody who had a choice about what they were going to be,” Tuck said. “Never. If you want to make an enemy out of me, let me hear some prejudice come out of your mouth.”
Tuck hopes to continue spreading that message. Now that he has had a little bit of practice, he said he will definitely consider the idea of making more peace symbols in the future.
“I’m afraid people will ask me to make them one,” Tuck added, smiling. “It would be cool if they did, though.”