Paths to Peace
An inspiring image: Area children, coming together. They won't walk for politics. They won't walk for the religion. They'll walk for peace, and it will be "amazing."
At least that's what area organizers like Appalachian State University Peace Club (Campus Anti-War Network) president John Fortenberry are hoping with this year's Peace Parade.
With a parade so peaceful it won't even stop traffic, organizers are putting together more than a show. They're creating a statement.
"The theme this year is 'Paths to Peace,'" Fortenberry said, "so, we're really just trying to highlight that there are many paths to peace."
Specifically? Inner peace, local peace and global peace.
"You have to have first inner peace and then local peace to even get to global peace," he said. "We have to have peaceful people to get peaceful communities."
With things heating up in Afghanistan and changes in Iraq, this year's trek is particularly timely, but, as Fortenberry stresses, the push for peace isn't just a reaction to what you see on television worlds away.
That's where inner peace comes in.
"It's being happy with yourself, perfectly fine with the situation of life that you're in right now," he said, "being very centered with life, kind of feeling more connected to the earth and the community."
And it's not a new age concept. After all, peaceful people lead to peaceful communities.
"And then we can influence the world to be more peaceful," he said. "It's important to acknowledge that peace is a good force in this world of so much violence and hatred."
Western Youth Network kids will decorate cardboard inserts (courtesy of Footsloggers) with personal peace slogans, and many will be walking with college students and community members.
"It's just going to be a bunch of really happy peaceful people with signs," Fortenberry said.
The route takes paraders up King Street from the county library to the Turchin Center and back again.
The International Day of Peace, also called World Peace Day, was first celebrated in 1981 and now happens every Sept. 21.
The parade is just one of the local events commemorating Peace Day.
Thursday, Sept. 16: Creative Workshop at Earth Fare from 4 to 8 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 18: Yoga for Peace with Lis at Sheer Shakti at 4 p.m. ($10 donation)
Tuesday, Sept. 21: Ceremony and Moment of Silence at the Jones House Lawn and ASU Sanford Mall from 11:45 to 12:10 p.m. Teach-in at the Jones House from 12:30 to 4 p.m., Peace Day Parade (starting at 4 p.m. at the Watauga Public Library lawn), Variety Show at Our Daily Bread from 6 to 8 p.m., Paths to Peace Discussion forum (sponsored by AIESEC) in ASU's Plemmons Student Union Calloway Peak Room from 7 to 8:30 p.m., Walking Peace Vigil at Sanford Mall at 9 p.m.
Downtown businesses will raise Peace Flags in honor of the day.