Walking for peace in Iraq

After seven years, it’s time for our troops to come home

Diane Suzuki-Brobeck is a board member of the Chico Peace and Justice Center and coordinator of the Beyond Violence Alliance, a violence prevention program.

March 20 marks the seventh anniversary of the beginning of the war in Iraq. Except for the ongoing war in Afghanistan and the Vietnam War, this will be America’s longest-fought war, though undeclared. It is time for the Iraq war to end, and the anniversary reminds us that we must renew our efforts to protest an unjust war.

It’s time for anti-war activists to get back into the streets, including all those people who objected to this war under the Bush administration. We must demand that our limited resources be spent on the health and well-being of our nation.

We must also honor our peacemakers and educate the next generation of peacemakers.

The Season for Nonviolence, from Jan. 30-April 4, is a national, 64-day educational, media, and grassroots campaign dedicated to demonstrating that nonviolence is a powerful way to heal, transform, and empower our lives and our communities. Inspired by the 50th and 30th memorial anniversaries of Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., this international event honors their vision for an empowered, nonviolent world. ’Tis the season to educate our children.

One peacemaker our children will be inspired by is Mildred Lisette Norman. Starting on Jan. 1, 1953, in Pasadena, she adopted the name “Peace Pilgrim” and walked across the United States for 28 years. When she began her pilgrimage she had taken a vow to “remain a wanderer until mankind has learned the way of peace, walking until given shelter and fasting until given food.”

On Saturday, March 20, from 9 a.m. to noon, the Chico Peace and Justice Center is sponsoring “Pathway to Peace: The Next Generation of Peacemakers.” The Pathway to Peace Pilgrims, continuing Mildred’s journey, will walk from Children’s Playground to Martin Luther King Jr. Park (20th Street Park), stopping at peace checkpoints and the Community Labyrinth along the way. At each checkpoint, pilgrims will receive a memento honoring peacemakers in history. A gathering at MLK Park will welcome the pilgrims and call for a redirection of military spending.

Through the Pathway for Peace walk, young people and adults will learn and relearn that Chico is home to a vibrant community of peace organizations, even as we mark the unhappy anniversary of another year at war.

To learn more about the Pathway to Peace walk or the Season of Nonviolence, visit the Chico Peace and Justice Center Web site at www.chico-peace.org.