Peace advocates pass through Bridgeport

By John Burgeson,, March 5, 2009

BRIDGEPORT, CT (USA) -- A group of about 20 Buddhist monks and peace advocates stopped in Bridgeport this morning while on a 500-mile walk from Massachusetts to Washington, D.C., a sojourn that they hope will encourage people to stop thinking of war as a way to solve the world's problems.

Officially called the "Walk for a New Spring," participants paused for a time at City Hall, 45 Lyon Terrace, hoping to meet with Mayor Bill Finch, whose office is actually in City Hall Annex. In any case, they never got to meet the mayor.

This is the eighth year for the peace walk, which was established after the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

"The appeal for peace is also an appeal to use the resources that we put into war-making into things for our own good," said monk Clare Carter of Leverett, Mass. "The number of motorists who toot their horns in approval and give us the peace sign is just amazing."

She said that was not the case immediately after Sept. 11, when the group was greeted with snowballs and rude comments.

The walkers were organized by the Center for the Nipponzan Myohoji order of Buddhism, and the walk is the group's principal activity for the year. The walkers set out Feb. 13 at the order's Peace Pagoda, also in Leverett.

Carter explained that the walkers stay in church basements and private homes along the way. Not everyone is making the entire walk. Most walk only for a few days; when they drop out, others join.

"Our younger walkers are joined by their parents on weekends," she said.

The walkers said that they hope to reach Washington, D.C., on April 8.