Why all the interest in me? My names have been fine –
Mildred Norman, and then Mildred Norman Ryder.
Call me peace pilgrim.
You’re missing the point. Family? Mother was a tailor,
father was a carpenter. Yes, I eloped. Yes, I divorced.
That’s all in the past; now I walk.
I walk for peace; I’ve been walking for peace since
New Year’s Day 1953, and I’ve walked through wars
and rumors of wars.
Korea, Vietnam, and no, I haven’t stopped. How could
I, when the wars continue, shifting shapes and locations
You ask about miles. Journalists! You’re missing the point.
I stopped keeping track at twenty-four thousand miles.
True, I’ve walked
the circumference of earth and more. I stopped keeping
track of the miles because that is what people focused on.
I wanted people to focus
on walking for peace, working for peace, doing whatever
they could do for peace. Yes, I could sew, I could build.
But I walk. It is my walk,
my pilgrimage to walk for peace rather than against the
madness. Call me peace pilgrim. Yes, you can capitalize
the Ps. Ps please. Peace please.
Call me Peace Pilgrim.
Andrew Shattuck McBride
April 10, 2012