Peace walk across Maine begins

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A resident peers out his door as a line of veterans, Buddhist monks and supporters walk along High Street in Farmington on the first leg of a 130-mile walk across Maine today. 

FARMINGTON – Overnight, fall’s first killing frost left a thick white crystalline coat on lawns as veterans, a few Buddhist monks, nuns and supporters gathered to begin a 130-mile walk across Maine.

The eight-day walk which will end in Portland for the Veterans Day parade on Nov. 11, is an effort by Veterans For Peace to bring an awareness of the cost of war to communities along the way. The Maine Walk for Peace, Human Needs, and Veterans’ Care kicked off in Farmington last night when more than 100 people gathered on election night for a potluck supper and discussion at the Old South Church.

This morning, white puffs of breath rose above the 35 or so circled walkers bundled against the cold as organizers gave final instructions to walk behind the monks and in single file. A low sharp stab of sun cut through the group’s assembly bringing the promise of warmer temperatures as they crossed the street to begin the first, 14.4-mile leg to Skowhegan.

Veterans for Peace founder, Doug Rawlings of Chesterville, led the walk wearing a “Maine Walk For Peace” sign and was followed by a few Buddhist monks and nuns chanting and beating on small, hand-held drums as they walked. The monks from an order originating in Japan, included Rev. Gyoway Kato of the Nipponzan Myohoji order from Western Massachusetts. The monks are known for conducting peace walks all over the world. Last April Rev. Kato led a similar walk through Maine calling for an end to the nuclear arms race.

Some of the walkers will go the entire distance; others will walk sections and new participants are expected to join as the walk passes through their communities. Each evening, a potluck gathering and discussion will be held in towns along the way. The walk is not a protest march but instead hopes to bring an awareness of the cost of war, organizers said. Costs include personal and financial burdens Mainers have had to endure of the wars’ 9-year duration. The walkers will average 16 miles a day with shuttles organized to get walkers home again, if needed.

For full walk schedule and registration information see

Doug Rawlings of Chesterville addresses the group before the walk began.

Participants hold hands in a circle at UMF as they get ready to begin the Maine Walk for Peace, Human Needs, and Veterans’ Care, which ends on Veterans Day on Nov. 11 

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