March 31st, 2011 § Leave a comment § permalink
Today I had the opportunity to meet up with Bill and Barbara Fenwick and their friend Tom Wonziewicz. We ate lunch and had a very interesting conversation. Turns out, the Fenwick’s roots can be traced back to the 1500s when their family arrived to America from abroad. Tom’s family, who happens to be of Polish decent, has a heritage dating back to the beginning of the 1800s. Tom even brought me some Polish rye bread to enjoy along the Trail.
After a great lunch, the Fenwicks and Tom returned home and I went off to visit the Carlisle Barracks. The site of the old Carlisle Indian Industrial School is presently comprised of two remnants of buildings. The remainder of the site houses barracks for the active Army War College.
After briefly viewing the only two remaining structures of the School, I stopped by the Indian cemetery to pay my respects. I found standing there, overlooking the graves of many young children, to be quite moving. I began to think how hard it is to imagine what these young Indian children felt at the time. Many were forcefully removed from their families and forced to learn, accept and adopt a completely different culture.
I departed the cemetery and went to speak with some of the soldiers on site. Unfortunately they didn’t seem to be too familiar with the history of the Indian School or of Indians in general. They were more adamant about sharing information about the Army and its history. While the information they were sharing may have been valuable to some, I find I am walking for Peace so these conversations did not interest me that much.
After visiting the Carlisle Barracks I returned to my hotel to rest for the remainder of the afternoon. Tomorrow I head south to Gettysburg. While I may have to battle more mountains, peaks and valleys, I am hoping I can do so with a little sunshine and perhaps, the absence of snow. -Correction: Tomorrow’s forecast – Wet Snow !
March 31st, 2011 § Leave a comment § permalink
Yesterday was both a long and incredibly challenging day. My morning started off fine as I continued north on Route 94 towards Carlisle. Then in the early afternoon, snow flurries began to fall. I had become somewhat accustomed to the cold and precipitation rarely bothered me, but the snow flurries gradually gave way to a heavy, wet, and constant snowfall.
As I continued along Route 94, the landscape changed to a rural area comprising of farms and orchards. Additionally, this route traversed up and down the Appalachian Mountains. At one point I even crossed the Appalachian Trail. The sky became dark due to the stormy clouds and the temperature continued to drop.
I continued to walk and the weather continued to deteriorate. The challenge was navigating up and down the peaks and valleys of the mountains. At each mountain peak I’d search, hoping to find shelter or even just a warm place to rest for a few minutes. Yet with each peak I was greeted with disappointment. As if to add insult to injury, large trucks would frequently rumble past me, sending a rushing wind and spatters of slush from the road into my face.
As I was going through those peaks and valleys, it seemed to me that every mountain became harder to conquer. I couldn’t rest and the weather didn’t improve. For the first time since starting the Trail, I had that kind of moment where you start thinking about giving up and wishing you were already at your final destination. Of course in my mind and in my heart, I knew giving up was not an option. I just continued to walk, motivated by the glimmer of hope that upon reaching the top of each peak, I’d eventually find the comforting light of a shelter.
It was a challenge, both emotionally, physically and even to some extent, philosophically. After almost 30 miles of rigid conditions, I finally found a motel in the distance! I was overjoyed at reaching this place of rest. However, I was also beyond exhausted. As soon as I walked into my room, I didn’t feel like doing anything. I was hungry but I didn’t have the strength or energy to get up and get something to eat. I just crashed onto my bed and tried to sleep. Unfortunately, my feet were in such pain, sleep was not easy. Even my excitement to explore Carlisle the following day couldn’t encourage me to sleep.
March 30th, 2011 § Leave a comment § permalink
Nestled within the rolling hills and green pastures of Cumberland County, lies the small city of Carlisle, Pennsylvania. With a rich history dating back to the 1700s, Carlisle is the home of the Carlisle Barracks, the United States Army Military Heritage Museum and the controversial Carlisle Indian Industrial School.
Located on the then-vacant Carlisle military barracks, the school’s founding in 1879 was credited to Captain Richard Henry Pratt. The European-American and self labeled “superior” majority firmly believed that by supporting the education of Native American children, they could “civilize” them and assimilate them into the majority of society. This movement was promoted by individuals such as George Washington and Henry Knox who believed that Native Americans were equal to the white man but that their culture was inferior.
The school opened with 82 students and rapidly grew to 1,000 students a year through a national recruitment process. Pratt hired numerous individuals to insure that the school was fully staffed with academic and industrial teachers. The curriculum featured English, history, math, writing, and drawing classes and trade skills development courses to prepare the students for the workforce.
Students were collected from various reservations and tribes and resided in the barrack dormitories. From uniforms to marching to and from classes, the students learned in a rigid and refined setting based on the military culture. During summer breaks, they did not return to their tribes, but rather, worked for non Indian families until the school term resumed. This was known as the “Outing System,” an effort to detribalize the Native American children.
Richard Pratt remained the superintendent of the school until he was forced to retire in 1904. The school enrolled over 12,000 Native American children throughout its tenure. There are mixed attitudes regarding the nature of the school and its success. The school was a model for 26 Indian boarding schools across the country by 1902. However, many Native Americans hold negative opinions regarding the school and its practices.
The school closed in 1918 and the Army reclaimed possession of the Carlisle Barracks. In 1961 the barracks was officially declared a National Historical Landmark and currently houses the United States Army War College.
March 29th, 2011 § § permalink
It is almost a week into my journey and I have already walked 175 miles. Yesterday I had quite a long day and did not find a place to stay until later in the evening. The mornings and evenings have been quite cold so far. The temperature hovers around 32 degrees during the day and below freezing in the morning and at night.
Today I decided to take a much needed day of rest. I’m staying in a motel near the intersection of Route 30 and Route 94 to enjoy a day of remaining still and doing a little laundry. In general, I feel great. However, I have developed some large blisters on my feet from walking so many miles each day. Some of the blisters are the size of a silver dollar! My feet are slightly swollen and at times burn and tingle with pain from the blisters. I’m hoping that by resting my feet today, they will have the opportunity to become refreshed.
Tomorrow I’ll be traveling north on Route 94 towards Carlisle. When I arrive in the next day or so, I will visit the old Carlisle Indian Industrial School; now home of the United States Army War College.
But for now, I shall take it easy and rest my eyes along with my feet. There are many miles of adventure ahead. My spirit is still strong and my heart, full of energy.
March 29th, 2011 § Leave a comment § permalink
Honest, humble and peaceful are all qualities which were embodied by Lenni-Lenape Indian Chief, Tamanend. His name means affable, or easygoing and friendly. As chief of one of the Lenni-Lenape clans along the Delaware Valley, it was Tamanend’s job to serve as a leader for his people and a peacemaker when encountering foreigners.
Tamanend resided in the forests along the Neshaminy. He is most remembered for his involvement in William Penn’s Treaty of Amity and Friendship. Along the banks of the Delaware River in a place called Shackamaxon, William Penn, accompanied by several Quakers, met with Tamanend and Lenni-Lenape Indians to make a pact of peaceful coexistence. The Lenni-Lenape Indians made a deed allowing Quakers to settle on their land.
Tamanend, true to his peaceful and amicable nature, gave William Penn a wampum belt as a symbol of friendship. For years the Quakers and the Indians lived together as friends, if not brothers. For Tamanend said both cultures shall live in peace and harmony “as long as the creeks and rivers run and while the sun, moon, and stars endure.”
To this day, Tamanend is considered a legend in the memory of both Indians and whites. In folklore, he is known as King Tammany or Saint Tammany, titles given to him by the people of Philadelphia. May 1st was celebrated as St. Tammany Day. Today there are numerous statues and parks in honor of him.
One such park is Penn Treaty Park, the very location where Penn’s Treaty took place. This park is located in the neighborhood of Fishtown in Philadelphia, Pennslyvania along the banks of the Delaware River.
March 28th, 2011 § Leave a comment § permalink
Yesterday, as I traveled along Route 30, just east of Lancaster, I stumbled across a commercialized Mecca of endless stores and shops. It looked as if there were thousands of stores and tens of thousands of people bustling about. Busloads of shoppers passed me by on the road. It was incredible how many people were coming in to shop. They behaved as if the world was soon ending or as if it were Christmas Eve instead of a cold March day.
As the cars crawled along the two lane road into the shopping complex parking lot, I spotted an out of state vehicle with a bumper sticker reading, “Red, White and Broke.” It was disturbing for me to witness this commercialized element of culture which society holds to such great importance.
I felt relieved after I had passed through the busy area. I was greeted by a beautiful and peaceful view as I crossed the Susquehanna River. As the sun began to set, the landscape began to change into a quiet and somewhat residential area. My body started to feel tired from the day’s travel so I searched for a place to rest for the night.
In a short time, I found a small establishment surrounded by several shacks. I knocked on the door and was greeted by a woman. I asked her if she had a vacancy for the evening so I could rest and continue on my way the next morning. She explained to me that the small buildings were typically rented out on a weekly or monthly basis. After I briefly explained the Trail and why I needed shelter for one night, she agreed to rent me a small building for the night if I found the accommodations satisfactory.
There were 10 shacks on the property and only one was vacant. It looked like a tiny hut with a roof. It was incredibly small inside, with a cot-like thing to sleep on. There was ancient paneling on the walls and no heat or hot water. I was tired and really needed a place to stay, so I followed the woman back to her establishment to discuss my rental payment for the night.
As she invited me inside her small dwelling, I noticed a woman sitting by a table counting a pile of change. I greeted her but she was busy counting the pennies on the table. The head woman explained to me that her sister’s son had passed away the day before and the two women were struggling to produce enough money for a proper funeral and burial. I offered her my condolences and sensing she didn’t wish to talk anymore, quietly returned to my shelter for the night.
I never met any of the tenants from the other buildings but I guessed they were not financially well off based on the beat up cars surrounding the shanties. I found it terribly sad that people were living month to month in these conditions. As I got ready for bed, I layered my clothes for warmth and nestled under the small blanket which was provided.
My mind was swirling with the two vastly different experiences I had that day. On one hand, I witnessed people vicariously spending their money without a care in the world. They shopped and shopped until their cars couldn’t fit all the merchandise. Then, only a few miles down Route 30, I bedded down in a shack, at an establishment cared for by a kind yet grieving woman suffering an incredible financial burden.
As I closed my eyes, I tried to silence my unsettling thoughts and drift off to sleep. It was literally and emotionally a long and cold night.
March 27th, 2011 § Leave a comment § permalink
Comprised of green rolling hills and abundant farmland, Lancaster County sits in south central Pennsylvania just a few counties west of Philadelphia. This area is famous for its Amish and Mennonite inhabitants. Arriving in the early 1700s, the Amish settled in Lancaster County, an immigration initiated by William Penn, to test the bounds of religious tolerance.
The Amish are a part of what was known as the Anabaptist movement which is based on the principals of simplicity, community, non-resistance and a conscious and educated choice to accept God. Unlike other religions, the Anabaptists believe that only adults should be baptized for in their maturity they possess the ability to make a conscience choice to do so.
Alongside the Amish, the Mennonites and the Brethren also live within the Anabaptist principles. Simplicity is stressed among the communities. Most members chose not to indulge in modern day conveniences such as electricity or forms of telecommunications. Worship services are conducted in the home or meetinghouse rather than a large and extravagant church.
The Anabaptists also practice humility, patience, obedience and conformity. Amish can be seen riding in black buggies pulled by a horse as to blend in with the countryside. Vanity and pride are avoided and forbidden in the community. Therefore the Amish, Mennonites and Brethern tend to isolate themselves from outsiders and the modern and technologically advanced world. This isolation further strengthens the harmony and sense of belonging and community within each group.
Today there are over 30,000 Amish inhabitants in Lancaster County. Known to tourists as “Pennsylvania Dutch Country” or “Amish Country,” Lancaster is a unique and inspiring vacation destination by many families who wish to witness firsthand the simple and basic lifestyle of the Anabaptist people.
March 26th, 2011 § § permalink
A silent hero inspires and influences an individual, group of individuals and in some cases, even the world. While walking, I find that my mind has the opportunity to wander and reflect upon the many people who have had an important influence on my life.
My three children, Peter, Violet, and Cathy are silent heroes. They amaze and inspire me. Each of them face challenges and obstacles yet somehow find the ability to turn them upside down and into accomplishments. They do not give up easily and consistently set goals, driven by their own personal ambitions. As a father all I did was teach them the basics of life. They took these lessons upon them and molded their own respective incredible lives.
I am truly grateful for each of them and am proud to be their father. I am humbled by their accomplishments, goodness, integrity, determination and perseverance. I am thankful for the kindness, generosity, good heart and love that they have given me over the years. I am moved by the love they sent along with me for this journey. I carry their bright spirits and energy with me as I walk the Trail.
In Peter, I see a lot of things in him now which remind me of my younger self. I am incredibly proud of him and the way he is pursuing his life. My daughter Cathy has always been generous and kind. I am proud of the life she has made for herself. My daughter Violet is sensitive and kind and I am proud of all of her accomplishments.
Violet sent a letter to MMR radio on my behalf and it brought a tear to my eye. The disc jockey read her letter on the air. I’d like to share with you that broadcast, so please click the link below to listen and enjoy.
Radio Broadcast of Violet’s Letter
March 25th, 2011 § Leave a comment § permalink
Yesterday was quite the adventure. When I woke up I was greeted by a blanket of snow on the ground. It was only two days into my journey and I had already been able to experience a variety of weather conditions.
From my hotel in Frazer, I set off into the brisk morning air to walk along Route 30 towards Lancaster County. Despite the cold, I still felt the burning and exciting energy inside of me. I even took my camera out to take a few pictures along the way. While walking along, many thoughts and ideas began circulating in my head. My mind wandered, only interrupted by the occasional rushing back wind of a tractor trailer driving by.
I was excited about these new ideas, thoughts, and even memories. While packing up to leave the hotel yesterday morning, I found a card in my backpack from one of my daughters and was moved by the simple gesture of love she sent to travel along with me. This prompted me to think of the influential individuals in my life, such as my family and friends and people I’ve met throughout my lifetime. So I have decided to include an additional section to my blog. It will be a category titled, “Silent Heroes” and will feature people who not only inspire me, but inspire and influence others and even all of humankind as well.
Motivated by my many new ideas, I tackled the rolling hills of Lancaster County. Last evening became a great test of my strength. As I reach the top of each hill, I surveyed the area with the hopes of finding a place to stay for the night. It took many hilltops before I finally found a place to sleep around 11:30pm. While this has been a great experience thus far, I now understand that I have to become accustomed to this different lifestyle that is ahead of me for the journey. While each day presents a new and different adventure, I still have to become used to the way of life that is now my own for the next however many months.
Today’s weather is expected to be a little chilly but I am looking forward traveling along the Trail under the warmth of the brilliant sunshine.
March 24th, 2011 § § permalink
Yesterday I took the very first steps of the Trail of Hope. Around the granite obelisk, forever marking the memory of The Great Elm Tree in Penn Treaty Park, I was privileged to be surrounded by my friends and family. I was honored by the introduction and support from my good friend, John Connors and was deeply moved by the blessings and prayers said on my behalf by Father Doyle and Pastor Norwood.
From the bottom of my heart I’d like to thank everyone who came to the park to give their time and express their support as I began my journey. It was a very honest showing of support. I could feel the energy from everyone present and it is that energy that I will carry with me and will keep me going each day.
As soon as I began to walk, it started to rain. I felt fine and was happy to finally be on the Trail. As I walked the 11 miles to Haverford, I realized that Mother Nature was cleansing the Trail all the way to Oklahoma and blessing me with Her rain. I felt a sense of safety and content that everything would be all right throughout this pilgrimage.
For the start of the Trail, I had several roses that I left throughout Philadelphia. The first, I placed by the obelisk of the Great Elm Tree. After leaving Penn Treaty Park, I set off to the Front and Market Street loop and placed a rose at the statue of Chief Tamanend. I then left a rose in honor of William Penn at City Hall. The final rose traveled with me outside of Philadelphia to Haverford College, the home of the oldest and closest living descendent of The Great Elm Tree.
When I arrived to Haverford I was greeted by the arbor preservation department. They had a tent set up under the Elm where I rested and had lunch. I was given a small piece of wood, broken from the Haverford Elm, to accompany me on the Trail. After lunch, I thanked everyone for their support and continued along my way. I had about 20 more miles to cover before I reached my place of rest for the night.
30+ miles into my journey and 1,970 miles left to go, I checked into a hotel in Frazer, Pennsylvania to rest for the night. My spirit is high and full of energy and I look forward to what each new day will bring.