Day 9 - Sunday March 20th, 2005
Surgoinsville TN to Kingsport TN
It is the day after the anniversary of the war in Iraq and
my thoughts are with those who are still dealing with the
aftermath of the War.... a war with no end! We have a 16 mile
day ahead from Surgoinsville to Kingsport and again we are blessed
with great weather.
I have been pleasantly surprised with the amount of support we are receiving. Most of the passers-by are waving and supporting the group and the communities that are hosting us are warm and openhearted. There are a lot of great people in these communities and we have all been nourished by their generosity and welcome.
On this anniversary, we are walking to the Holston Ammunition manufacturing plant, the major supplier for the Gulf War. On the outskirts of Kingsport, the plant is nestled at the base of a stunning mountain range. A strange site to see, beautiful Nature in the background and encased in Barbed Wire, a plant built to make weapons.
This plant has increased it's production of ammunition dramatically since the start of 'Gulf War II'. Before the war began it was producing around 250000 T/year, which has dramatically increased to 10 million T in the last 2 years. It is hard to imagine, but the product of this place is solely designed to kill and thousands of dead people are the result of it's wares.
Our intention was simple, we wanted to walk there and offer 'prayer for peace' outside the facility. We arived at about two o'clock in the afternoon, and sat on the grass. There were about thirty of us from five different countries. We all have different, languages, cultures, prayers and lives but for that moment we all spoke with one voice. Our prayers were to end all war, for peace, justice and respect for all life.
Our prayers were met by the 'Blue Stormtroopers' of Wackenhut Security. Four men with guns and pepper spray arrived, none of them could have been over 20. They looked nervous as they said " can we help you Sir?" to Marcus Atkinson... I could see their hands shaking. I don't know what sort of a threat they thought we were but we obviously struck a nerve. We were informed that it was Federal property and we would have to leave and we couldn't take photos. Marcus stalled them with questions and eventually we moved on, when we wanted to, after many photos and prayer. A bit further down the road we were stopped by police, who were quite polite after we informed them of what we are doing.
The Police didn't realy hassle us and just warned us about photographing the plant, because it was a "terrorist threat" and let us go on the way. In the middle of the conversation the officer stopped and pointed at one of the walkers and asked..."is that Ruthie?". We confirmed his question and he was kind of excited. It turns out that he had graduated from the same school as Ruthie and he had been the quarter back... it's a strange world sometimes.
We walked on to our destination where we where met by our hosts, the kind people from the Unitarian Universalist Church of Gray. We will be staying with them for the next two days, sharing food and stories and enjoying our first rest day of the journey.
For a Nuclear free World,