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Insights From Peace March

September 21, 1986

I'd like to thank Kathleen Hendrix and The Times for the coverage of the Great Peace March at the Mississippi River ("Meeting the Mississippi Peace Cruise," Aug. 1).

I read the article aloud to a friend and at various points we were both very moved. In fact so moved, tears actually welled up in our eyes. Afterwards we talked about our reaction and tried to get an idea of what we were feeling. Even though we both care a lot about the issue of peace, we bring quite different points of view to the article. My friend works in the defense industry and is suspicious and hard line when discussing the Russians. I have a less cynical attitude and more faith in the Soviet people's interest in peace.

It's still unclear what stirred us so. But we both agreed that the goodby scene between the marchers and the Peace Cruise participants was particularly moving. As the cruise members returned to their boat Hendrix writes:"The Soviet and American cruise members went back on board and hung over the rails while the marchers began quietly singing 'Give Peace a Chance.' They (the marchers) stood there, hands raised in a peace sign, swaying gently and the passengers on the river boat did the same, calling out 'We love you' to the marchers."

For me this vision of Soviet and American citizens together as friends seeking peace is very compelling. For my friend, this paragraph mainly underscores his sincere desire to "give peace a chance."

Another part of my response to the article was associated with the 87 trees planted for peace--the 87th tree planted to honor the Soviet people and the others spreading a peace message in scores of cities and towns across America. The symbol of trees is so strong, so alive so lasting--and so peaceful!

But probably what had the most impact on both of us was the peace marchers' accomplishment. No one thought they would get so far--yet they've crossed the Mississippi River, they've walked more than 2,000 miles and reached Chicago. In fact it looks like they're going to beat the odds and all the dire predictions of failure and actually make it to Washington!

Then too, the march has a very special meaning to me because a close friend of mine--a woman in her mid-60s, a mother of seven and a grandmother of two--is making this trek. I'm proud of her and inspired by her--she has continued on in spite of extremes in weather, cramped tent living, a rigorous marching schedule of 18-25 miles most days and various other hardships. And I'm excited for her too--just imagine walking all the way across the United States at her age. For that matter, just imagine walking across the entire country no matter what age you are.

I have the feeling that if the article stirred such emotion in us it must have touched many others in the same way. So here's to Hendrix and The Times' continuing fine coverage of this remarkable journey.

JUDY KOVEN

Santa Monica

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