I am a self-proclaimed hippie! At least that's what Tonya Parker Morrison called me and other peace marchers in her article, Protesters urge alternatives to war with Iraq (Globe, Oct. 27). Truthfully, I didn't join the group, that assembled at Ewert Park on the afternoon of October 26th, initially with the intention of walking with them to Spiva Park, but I easily identified with what the group represented and found the need to cover their cause as a participant.
Being labeled "hippies," in my opinion, demeans what the group stands for. According to links at hippy.com, the term suggests people who are non-violent and vegetarian, want a reform of marijuana laws, are Greenpeace supporters, and bow down to the psychedelic guru Timothy Leary. If labeled "old hippies," they might have a box of Woodstock photos which they take out from time to time to show their grandchildren. My 20-year old daughter imagines someone with rose-coloured glasses shaped like John Lennon's, bell bottoms and a big ole necklace with a peace sign on it. (It is curious, indeed, that designers have revived the fashion from the '60's; perhaps, seeing that history is about to repeat itself.)
(Left) Born in Carthage, Tegan Blackwood, age 15, wearing a traditional Muslim headdress, is a convert to Islam who opposes war and the slaughter of innocent people. Tegan assists her mom, Jean (pictured to Tegan's right) with many functions.
(Right) Jason Maness, a sergeant with the 203rd Engineers of the Missouri National Guard Armory in Joplin, shows his support for the peace movement.
A truer definition
Dick Thompson, one of the marchers, professes not to be a hippie. Instead, he defends his position, as an American citizen and former member of the military, in showing his neighbors and representatives his extreme concern over President Bush's push to invade Iraq. "If the president is truly worried about our being attacked, perhaps, he should consider invading the other end of his 'axis of evil,' North Korea," Thompson wrote in a letter to the editor of the Globe.
"We must be the change we wish to see in the world" is a quote by Mahatma Gandhi. It was penned onto a Peace Awareness flyer disseminated to the group, to symbolize the responsibility people living in the United States have "to resist the injustices done by our government, in our names."
Gwen Murdock, a psychology professor at Missouri Southern State College and one of the group's leaders, defined her role as not someone who was anti-American but as a citizen seeking alternatives to war with Iraq. She voices the popular opinion of the more moderate protestors that the United States needs to combat terrorism as it exists on all fronts, not just with Saddam Hussein. This argument offsets the old hippie philosophy that all war, even that which presumably might be waged in defense of our homeland, was not justifiable. Besides, Ms. Murdock, Jean Blackwood, Bill Kumbier (MSSC English Dept.), John Couper (PSU Communications Dept.), and Beryl Kingsbury (ret. Methodist minister & Korean War vet) were the chief organizers of the march/rally.
Honk for peace
(Left) The lead marcher waves to a driver who acknowledges the peace group's presence by honking. Many drivers showed their support by tapping the horn and giving a thumb's up sign.
(Right) Bob Gideon of Carterville demonstrates his opposition.
As the marchers peacefully walked along Seventh Street from Ewert Park and then across Main to Fourth Street, they received support from passing motorists. Responding to a sign held by one of the lead marchers to "Honk for Peace," many drivers tapped their horns and raised their thumbs in salute.
"I guess we would know those opposed to our march," one of the participants noted. "They'd use the other finger."
Obviously, it was difficult to tell which of the cars, silently passing by, were showing their opposition and which were just in a hurry. But standing in front of the former Basket Case store on Main was Bob Gideon of Carterville, a professed Viet Nam vet with an E-5 ranking. A burly man, Gideon, the lone dissenter, showed up on his motorcycle to protest, what he considered, the group's obscene lack of support for our troops.
A large crowd assembles in Spiva Park to lend their support to Peace Awareness Day and appeal to President Bush to not send troops to Iraq.
George Spiva gets company
Only those who knew George Spiva intimately would be able to tell us if he would support or oppose the peace rally that eventually took place around him in Spiva Park. Most of the marchers gathered around George to chant a pledge "to make common cause with the people of the world to bring about justice, freedom and peace." Not in our name was a mantra to the government to stop invading countries and killing innocent civilians. Presumably, it was recited by groups all over the world on that day in support of the same cause for peace.
Kufara, an African-style marimba band composed of many of the marchers, supplied the background music. Marimbas resemble large xylophones. Kufara's name, which means "joyous," is based on a Zimbabwean proverb that states, If you can walk, you can dance; if you can talk, you can sing.
Further activities planned
We thought we'd capitalize on the energy and enthusiasm shown at the peace march, said Jean Blackwood, a peace activist. We thought we should get together to plan our next activities while everyone is still feeling that way. We've reserved the small meeting room at the Joplin Public Library for this from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Saturday, November 2. At this time we'd like to ask only those who are seriously interested in helping to ORGANIZE and PLAN future activities to attend. (The room will hold about 25 max.) Activities already being considered include a seminar or panel at MSSC and an "Empty Potluck Dinner" with a film to raise funds to help the Iraqi people. She encourages MSSC students to attend as an opportunity for them to organize their own meeting as well as to discuss the possibility of forming a campus peace organization. Anyone who can't attend this meeting may send suggestions or questions to Ms. Blackwood.
(Left) Dr. Paul Carter of Carthage opts for a regime change as a way of modifying our foreign policy. Dr. Carter was a member of the Ohio National Guard.
(Right) Colby Jones, age 9, formerly of Joplin, accompanies George Spiva on a bench in Spiva Park. Colby was one of about a dozen kids who attended the march/rally that attracted people of all ages in support of peace.