BRATTLEBORO -- Even peace activists need to eat lunch.
On their trek from Bennington, the members of the 2014 Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run on Friday stopped to refuel at about 1:30 p.m. before trotting into the lower field of Living Memorial Park to preach their message of love and harmony to dozens of young summer campers.
The Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run (formerly World Harmony Run) is an international torch relay and bills itself as history's longest and largest. It is meant to encourage goodwill and friendship at the local level and relay runs have occurred in more than 140 nations throughout North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia. An estimated 50,000 children in more than 1,000 cities and towns on the North American route are expected to participate when the Peace Run visits schools and youth organizations.
The runners -- from the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Brazil, Poland, Ukraine, Bali, Nepal, Luxembourg and Mongolia -- were greeted at Living Memorial Park with cheers and applause and one member gave the campers and counselors a brief synopsis of the group's mission before each runner gave the audience hints as to where they hail from. Brattleboro Interim Town Manager Patrick Moreland thanked the runners for what they are doing and led the children on a brief torch run of there own around the field.
New York resident Arpan DeAngelo, the captain of the United States team, told the Reformer the more violence there is on the planet, the more need there is for events like the Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run, which is in its 27th year.
"We're running to carry the message that peace begins with each individual. So we feel that each individual is important -- it doesn't matter where they live," he said. "We're all in this world together. We have to respect our differences and we also have to see what we have in common, but the forces of politics and other things don't always allow that to happen."
Woodstock resident Akankha Perkins organizes the team's route through Vermont because she is the only citizen in the state who was a student of the philosophy and meditation techniques of spiritual master Sri Chinmoy, who died in 2007. Perkins said he has been involved with the peace run, which is held every other year, since it began in 1987.
The team passed through Brattleboro as part of a 10,000-mile, four-month journey. It stopped at Living Memorial park before heading off to Keene, N.H. It will arrive back in New York later this month.
Moreland told the Reformer he stopped by because he got a friendly invitation from the torch relay's personnel and he believes the message is important for children to hear.
"I was here because, first and foremost, they invited me and they identified Brattleboro as a place they wanted to stop and take a moment and bring the message of peace and I wanted to honor that taking a few minutes and coming down and welcoming them," he said. "It's a difficult time and the message of peace has never been more meaningful or more urgent."
For more information, visit peacerun.org.
Domenic Poli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.