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The Nobel Peace Prize: its history and meaning

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The world's highest prize for peacemaking has gone to a Polish worker. His name is Lech Walesa. The award, known as the Nobel Peace Prize, was given to Mr. Walesa (pronounced vah-wen-sah, as though his last name had an ''n'' in it) because of his struggles for the rights of workers in Poland, a country under communist rule.

Mr. Walesa, who is easily recognized by his walrus mustache, was out in the woods gathering mushrooms when he heard the news.

He joins a group of prominent organizations and individuals that have been given this great honor in previous years.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees won the award in 1981 for the good work it has done over the years in helping to take care of millions of refugees throughout the world. These refugees had been forced to flee their homelands because of violence, wars, and droughts.

In 1978 the Nobel Peace Prize was shared by the former prime minister of Israel, Menachem Begin, and Anwar Sadat, the former President of Egypt. They won the award for their efforts to bring about peace and end years of conflict between their neighboring states.

Not all Nobel Peace Prizes are given to people or organizations because they actually helped stopped wars. Very often they have won it because they have struggled peacefully for freedom and justice.

Nobel prizes are not only given for peace. They are also given for excellence in literature, physics, chemistry, economics, and medicine, although the peace award is the most highly regarded.


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