OLYMPIA - About 30 people gathered Saturday at downtown's Heritage Park, then spent an hour walking single-file around Capitol Lake. Not a sound could be heard except for their footsteps and a drum that was tapped about once every eight seconds.
The one-hour trip around the lake was a “peace walk,” which was part of an event called a “Global Day of Listening.” Both the walk and overall event were staged in support of a children’s peace movement in Afghanistan, as well as to remind people about the consequences of war – even as across the globe U.S. and European forces were launching an air assault on Libya.
As part of the observance, 1,100 white markers were set up in the park to symbolize a fraction of the estimated civilian deaths caused by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The display was called the Iraq & Afghanistan “Memorial to Life.”
The peace walk began about 11 a.m. with 10 people, then it grew to 30 as it made its way around the lake. Others that joined were participants in the Pacific Northwest Medicine Wheel Ceremony, which also had set up ab event at Heritage Park.
A related group of protesters were in the eighth day of a fast, including Cheryl Crist, 66, of Olympia, who ran for Congress in 2004, 2008 and 2010. Also fasting with Crist was Larry Kerschner of Centralia, who was sitting outside Tradi- tions Cafe, across from Heritage Park. Their fast started March 12 and was end- ing Saturday night, he said.
“We are doing this in solidarity with the children,” Kerschner said about the children’s group in Afghanistan known as the Afghan peace youth volunteers.
Kerschner, 64, who drank only water during his fast, said his “energy and positiveness was good.” Crist, too, said she was fasting to “draw attention to the young people in Afghanistan.” Since March 12, both had staged their fast at Traditions Cafe from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. A sign was propped up next to Kerschner that said, “Live without wars fast.”
But not everyone was pleased with Saturday’s event, particularly the “Memorial to Life.” One young man walking his dog, who said he had served in Iraq three times, called the display “a bunch of crap.” He declined further comment and did not give his name.
The Global Day of Listening continues at noon today at Heritage Park, Fifth Avenue and Water Street in Olympia.