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Walk for Peace In Wisconsin

By Jay Kvale (Minnesota Peace Project) for Voices for Creative Nonviolence

About 40 peace activists gathered at Mill Bluff Park in western Wisconsin on Thursday, August 6, for the Walk for Peace organized by Voices for Creative Nonviolence. The event began with a solemn ceremony commemorating the tragic atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki 64 years ago.

On Friday morning the Walk began from Camp Williams with leaders Jeff Leys and Dan Pearson holding a large banner proclaiming the objectives -- end the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, keep the Wisconsin National Guard home, ban depleted uranium munitions, ban nuclear weapons, and provide compensation for war victims. Another large banner said, “Hiroshima – Never Again.” Despite a steady rain during the second half of the 13-mile leg, the walkers arrived in Tomah by early afternoon, led by 10-year old Kasey Ball.

Saturday was a festive day as the cheery cornet of John LaForge serenaded motorists in downtown Tomah; many of them responded with honks or waves of approval. The six-mile leg concluded at Tunnel City and was followed by training in nonviolence in preparation for possible confrontation with authorities at Fort McCoy the next day.

About 15 more supporters joined the Walk for the main event on Sunday as the walkers hiked five miles to the main gate of Fort McCoy where police were waiting and a steady stream of traffic on the state highway slowed to gawk at the scene. The tension level rose as local media interviewed two of the walkers for 15 minutes; then it calmly dissipated as nine protesters who had decided to be arrested were greeted in a calm, cordial fashion by the police at the barricades. The protesters across the road cheered as the nine – Joy First, Bonnie Urfer, Brian Terrell, Alice Gerard, Dylan Parker, Janet Parker, Vicki Andrews, Gerald Paoli, and Tom Haebig -- crossed the line and proceeded 50 yards to the main gate, where police escorted them inside to complete the arrest procedure.

As the marchers proceeded on for a final rendezvous at the western edge of the complex and business returned to normal at the main gate, the question arose – did the Walk have an impact?

Said marcher Karen Drydyk of Whitewater, Wisconsin, “We gotta keep telling people . . . we don’t need endless wars, or an overseas military empire, or depleted uranium munitions that cause cancer and stay toxic for millions of years, or thousands of nuclear weapons that can kill millions of people.”

Amen to that.


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