21 take part in 'Global Peace Walk'
Group visited area en route to West Coast

21 take part in 'Global Peace Walk'

Group visited area en route to West Coast

The Patriot-News

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Religion section

Saturday, January 28, 1995

[photo, not shown here, captioned:]

Akemi Tanahashi of Japan joins 19 other peace marchers at Three Mile Island for a prayer ceremony
-- Patriot-News/Kristen Cortazzo

21 take part in 'Global Peace Walk'

Group visited area en route to West Coast

By Mary Klaus

Nearly two dozen peace marchers from around the world visited the midstate this week to preach the gospel of "Global Peace Now" in a six-month walk marking the 50th anniversary of the United Nations.

The 21 participants in the Global Peace Walk left the United Nations headquarters in New York on January 15, Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday, and plan to arrive in San Francisco on June 26, the anniversary of the creation of the United Nations. The walkers, ranging in age from 22 to 72, include people from Japan, France, Germany, the United States and Venezuela.

"We're walking across the country as a physical offering, a prayer for peace," said David Williams of Santa Barbara, California. "We expect more people to join us as we make our way across the nation. Our group includes white, yellow, black and red people. We are interracial, inter-denominational and international."

The group arrived in the Harrisburg area last Tuesday, stopping at the offices of Mayor Stephen R. Reed and Gov. Tom Ridge. The marchers stayed for two nights in housing provided by Trinity Lutheran Church of Camp Hill. They went to the Three Mile Island Visitor's Center for a prayer service Thursday morning, then headed to Newville.

"We carry a spiritual message," said Williams, who practices the Buddhist faith. "The world public wants global peace now. The United Nations was founded for peace, but now is in the forefront of war. We want the United Nations to get back to its roots. Life on Earth won't survive another generation the way things are going. The threat of nuclear war still exists. We feel a sense of urgency to change things."

Sitting on the floor with their shoes removed and legs crossed as they ate a mostly vegetarian dinner, the marchers reveled in their diversity.

"I appreciate how different everyone is," said Donna Patrick of Prescott, Arizona, who usually works at Mother Earth Healing Circus. "I learned about this walk at the World Unity Gathering in Arizona and decided to join. We're all learning to get along as we walk, sing, drum and chant together. In the summer, many of us plan to go to Hiroshima for the ceremonies of the 50th anniversary of the atomic bomb dropped there."

Fermin Ferrer of Venezuela, a hotel clerk, said he is a former Catholic who now calls nature his religion.

"Our message is that people should be more understanding of each other," he said. "We need to live in harmony and take better care of the environment because it's all we have left."

Chief Okemaw Kesek of the Shenandoah Menominee Nation in northern Wisconsin said he joined the march to spread the message of peace.

"I was in the Walk Across America for Mother Earth in 1992," he said, adding that he works as a paralegal. "I'm seeing many non-tribal people accepting Native American concepts. Mother Earth is our provider, the heartbeat of all peoples. That unites us."

Another Native American, Wonono Rubio of Santa Barbara, Calif., said he has been in peace movement for four years.

"In the history of humankind, this is a time of purification," he said, calling himself a member of the Coastal Band Chumash Nation. "The Earth is sick with wars, famine and the loss of relationship with God. We need to heal people and the planet, to get beyond borders and to know that we all live on the same Earth, drink the same water and breathe the same air."

Rubio, a teacher, sound engineer and peace worker, praised central Pennsylvania as a "beautiful and hospitable place. People here seem very open-hearted."

The marchers said that they are in need of fresh fruit and vegetables, citizens band radios, hand-held walkie talkies, first-aid kits and a small car to do advance work. Anyone wishing to make any donations to the group should send them to Global Peace Walk Project, 1927 Haight St., Suite 85, San Francisco, Calif. 94117