Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Walk for Peace: Day Six

From Bruce Gagnon's blog "Organizing Notes":

    We arrived in Bath at 3:30 pm today just as the workers at Bath Iron Works were leaving work. We vigiled for a half-hour and people were surprised afterwards that it was not as negative a response from the workers as they had expected. Our signs were very positive making the call for conversion of the Navy shipyard that now builds Aegis destroyers which are outfitted with "missile offense" systems. It is clear that many people who work there would like to build wind turbines, rail systems or civilian ships.
    We moved on to a local Episcopal church where I am now writing this post. We'll have a pot luck supper tonight.
    When we left Rockland this morning it was raining after a huge storm passed through Maine during the night. By noon the storm had quieted and we finally saw the sun appear after several days of clouds and rain. We had a great lunch break at the home of Steve Burke who is a leader of the peace group in the Rockland area. His old house is right on Highway 1 in Warren so we were able to walk right up to his door.
    Just beyond Rockland we walked through Thomaston where a local Episcopal church opened their doors to us for a break. They clanged the bells as we arrived at the church and served us coffee, tea, and snacks. They were so kind and had planned to come out and greet us as we walked past their church but our support people had stumbled onto the church by accident and knocked on their door to see if we could take a break there. So a nice coincidence for us.
    We go back to Bath Iron Works at 8:00 am for a half-hour vigil before walking to Freeport. I notice that there is a 30% chance of rain tomorrow so maybe we will get lucky and avoid more water.

ROCKLAND — As rain fell on Rockland, Monday morning Nov. 8, a group of slicker-clad men and women stepped outside of the First Universalist Church in Rockland and, to the thrumming cadence of Buddhist drums, stepped along the Broadway sidewalk to continue a journey that began Nov. 2 in Farmington and will end in Portland on Veterans Day, Nov. 11.
    Bob Dale of Brunswick served in the military during World War II. He and his wife split the more than 150-mile route planned for Veterans for Peace members and supporters. "I think we have to wake people up to the situation," Dale said at the start of the walk's seventh day.
    "Everyone's complaining about not enough money for schools and other necessities, and here we are spending billions on the military every month," he said.
    According to the website at costofwar.com, the war in Afghanistan has cost more than $360 billion since it began. That translates to more than $9,000 per household. The combined cost of both the Afghan and Iraq wars totals more than $1.1 trillion to date.
Peace walkers have varied reasons
    South Thomaston artist Lyn Snow was walking on behalf of her husband, a World War II pilot. She said she wanted to promote the idea of people putting energy into peaceful activities such as farming and teaching.
    Alex Valente of Windham is a freshman at the University of Maine at Farmington, where she studies cultural economics, a discipline that uses knowledge of people's cultures to develop working economic systems. More than 20 other UMF students participated in the walk's first day and many have continued to check in for parts of the event.
    "If I can walk, and it's the only thing I can do to promote peace, I'll walk," Valente said as she prepared to join about 16 others on the rainy Warren-to-Brunswick leg of the journey. Vietnam veteran and Peace Walk organizer Bruce Gagnon said Valente had been doing homework as she walked.
    The night before leaving from Rockland, about 20 walkers were hosted in 12 local homes.
    "You come prepared to sleep on a floor with a sleeping bag and a pillow, but that's not all you get," Valente said. "There's a bond with the families. We exchange e-mail addresses."
    "This experience teaches you so much about humanity," she said. "People want to do their part. They're loving and giving. It's an incredible experience."

For the full article, click here.

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