The first modern peace walk, like the one described here, went a thousand miles northeast starting in New Orleans. It was the lone walk of a Union soldier, in uniform and moneyless. The year was 1867. He depended on Southern forgiveness and hospitality; he bet on that and won his bet.
That walk ended at the White House, where this walk held a vigil. That walk ended with Presidential hospitality; this one influenced a President to address the United Nations General Assembly. It had a lone walker, without support vehicles. This was a group, with vehicles (usually) and a central office in the Atlanta home of a tireless, determined US coordinator whose sometimes directorial role in support of the Japanese monks often made the American walkers fume.
The Union sergeant walked alone. Also alone**, the nameless Peace Pilgrim walked along U.S. highways from the fifties, through the sixties, into the seventies of our time. Sergeant and Pilgrim both aimed at reconciliation between enemy nations -- in this case, after a bitter civil war; in her case, to prevent world war and to bring inner peace with outer. At the profoundest level, the walk taken by Andy Rector was like the walks of these two solitary healers. At almost every other level, its aspects were its own. It can safely be said that there are no peace walks of the past, there will be none in the future like that Nipponzan Myohoji-led walk of 1982, the southern branch of the final phase of their World Peace March. The March crossed all inhabited continents. Its goal was New York: SSD-II, the United Nations General Assembly's Second Special Session on Disarmament.
Although those Nichiren Buddhist Monks -- accompanied by nuns and other Japanese and by North American, South American, European, and African walkers -- led five routes across the United State between October 1981 and June 12, 1982, the southern route gave by far the most programs, and it traversed much the most military-minded region. We believe the southern route interacted the most with local people and it appears to be the only route with a diarist who has come forward to publish -- and it is surely the only route whose diarist reports plainly, with calm or with pain, the group's intercultural dynamics -- with wry humor when not in a state of exhaustion (and often then).
Apparently the southern route, alone, in self-protection expelled walkers for using drugs. The southern route, alone, received (unknown to the walkers) FBI protection. The southern route alone touched a plutonium plant, then a church on the Sunday when a plant physicist gave his sermon defending his work; the southern walk alone touched a city the day Pete Seeger sang of peace there; the southern route alone touched a city the day Dan Berrigan spoke at its "Celebration of Life" to remind it of nuclear death prepared, ready.
Aside from an occasional baiting of military base commanders and a one-time carelessness toward peach farmers, the Buddhist monks' strategy recorded here was one of deep courtesy for all humans. This courtesy was the outward sign of their lives of total dedication to Buddhist precepts of caring -- with love and equanimity and frugality -- and of joy.
I invite you to a wonderful read, as you embark on Andy's journey to contribute to the changing of the US peace movement in the South, a journey which culminates -- after his scores of speeches and hundreds of phone calls, after his getting kicked off the walk and returning to become its chief English-language spokesperson, after visiting two dozen military bases and ten dozen churches, Twin Oaks commune and the Naval Academy, after taking in a Senate hearing in Washington and a dumpster-salvaged meal there -- in changing his belief as to the level at which world peace must primarily be sought.