By Ted Waddell
SULLIVAN COUNTY November 19, 2002 I call it a peace walk rather than a march, because march sounds too militaristic, said Michel Legrand, one of the organizers of a two-day walk for peace held over the Veterans Day weekend.
The first leg of the walk began Sunday morning at Callicoon Creek Park by the veterans monument, and continued along Route 97 to Cochecton where marchers crossed the Delaware River in Damascus, Pa., and continued to Narrowsburg after passing through Milanville, Pa. The total distance was 14.5 miles.
On Veterans Day, participants gathered in Narrowsburg and walked 16.5 miles to the post office in Shohola, Pa.
Pausing for a few moments on the bridge linking Cochecton to Damascus, walkers were treated to the sight of a bald eagle winging downriver.
It seems like war is always on the front burner, said Legrand, a former world-ranging photojournalist. War is an old story, [and] its my belief that any kind of war is avoidable and should be avoided.
Peace starts at home, he added. We need to learn how to get along and resolve conflicts. The easiest thing in the world is to take out your weapon.
While Legrand served as a support vehicle by riding his bicycle the distance, Mort Malkin The Walk Doctor and long-time champion for peace, set a blistering pace for the two-day peace walk. Legrand and Malkin were the primary organizers of the event.
Too many people are for war, [and] a lot of people are being intimidated into being silent, said Malkin. I used to think there were just wars, now I think there is just war.
The way to peace is peace, he added.
As the first leg of the grassroots walk for peace drew to a close, Malkin and 20-year-old Nathaniel Whitmore crossed the Narrowsburg Bridge ahead of the pack.
Whitmore is a third generation native of the Delaware River Valley. The issue is peace, he said.
As the small contingent of peace advocates caught up to the leaders, Beverly Sterner of Milanville carried a hand-made banner proclaiming the words of A.J. Muste There is No Way to Peace. Peace is the Way.
On Oct. 26, Tracy Ranze traveled to Washington, D.C., with her husband Mike and their 15-year-old son Leif to join a quarter of a million people rallying for peace.
On Sunday, she carried an American flag highlighted with a peace symbol against a field of blue on the Stars and Stripes in support of peace.
We are making a statement to our government that we want peace, said Tracy. We do not want war. We cant afford a war, not in lives, not in money.
We need to take democracy back, because there have been great atrocities done to our constitution and bill of rights under the guise of fear, she added. We need to stop being afraid.
As sunset colored the river valley, the walkers gathered at the gazebo overlooking Big Eddy for a candlelit peace prayer.
As twilight turned to darkness, the walkers shared stories of recent peace marches in opposition to a war looming in Iraq and the fears of parents with draft-age sons.
The evening ended with the walkers for peace singing Bob Dylans Blowin in the Wind and This Land is Your Land by Woody Guthrie.