Stonewalk: Int’l Requiem Memorial Walk

Picture 438

Thích Nhất Hạnh, Vietnamese Buddhist monk, teacher, author, poet, peace activist and recipient of the Courage of Conscience Award joins with monks for prayer ceremony at the memorial for Unknown Civilians Killed in War.

STONEWALK: America, Ireland, England, Japan & Korea
Global requiem peacewalk honoring civilian casualties of war


Stonewalk 1999 began with the one-ton granite stone which was placed on the grounds of The Peace Abbey in 1992 where it was unveiled at a ceremony which Muhammed Ali participated in. The stone is a memorial to those people around the world who tragically lost their lives in the course of military conflicts.

For years the Memorial called The Peace Abbey in Sherborn, Massachusetts its home. Over a period of years, it became clear that the stone must share its mission and meaning with the people of the United States … it went without saying that it should be taken to Arlington National Cemetery to serve as a reminder of the true cost of war. Arlington is known around the country as the home of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and a place where the people go and mourn for those who died in military conflict – American men and women of the four branches of military service. No mention is made of the civilian loss of life which number 9 out of 10 casualties in war. In fact, there is no official place in America where citizens can pause, reflect and mourn for civilian victims of war — men, women and children.

On July 4, 1999, a team of people from The Peace Abbey took the one ton stone, mounted it on a “caisson”, a cart that was made just for this purpose, and pulled it 500 miles in 33 hot, summer days from Sherborn over hundreds of hills and severe, black asphalt to Arlington. As the caisson went through the cities and communities of the east coast, townspeople joined in, either by cheering the walkers on, by offering them water, or by joining in, taking a handle and helping to pull the stone.

The stone made it to Arlington, but once it arrived, it was not allowed into the cemetery. Now the stone is on a mission to travel the world, bringing its message to communities everywhere that have been touched by the effects of war. This journey beyond the United States started on July 5, 2000 in Ireland.

The story of Stonewalk 1999 is chronicled below. To get a sense for what was happening as they walked, read the Daily Reports and Field Education Report written by Simon Augustine, a Harvard Divinity School Intern and a Stonewalker. To see how far the walk went each day, check out the Schedule and Route, or see what the media had to say about the journey at Articles about Stonewalk.




Stonewalk Hiroshima

Stonewalk Hiroshima

Stonewalk Introduction  Pre-walk video to news stations to Arlington National Cemetery
Stonewalk Film website by Progressive Picture.
Stonewalk Trailer for Documentary WGBH Memorial Day Program.
Stonewalk News coverage of beginning of Stonewalk at UMASS Boston.
Stonewalk: 2004, 911 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows
Documentary: Boston to New York City.
Stonewalk New York City Footage, 2004.
Stonewalk Japan:  2005, 60th anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki to Hiroshima.
Stonewalk Korea: 2007 Seoul, South Korea to the DMZ.

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Above photos of the Caisson Cabin adjacent to the Peace Abbey Foundation building.

A Stone With Heart
by Bruce Nichols

caissonwithbarsThis is an excerpt from the daily BLOG entries from Stonewalk USA 2004, Boston to New York.

During the last week when we gathered around the stone before our morning departure or after breaks along the road, I often found myself thinking of its origins. The hard, enduring granite monument we pull was born deep within the heart of the earth. Forged in molten magma it cooled slowly into the grey-white stone now mounted on the caisson. Within its crystalline structure is recorded a bit of the history of our planet.

When I place my hand on its coarse surface, I feel a connection with the earth and with the vast stretch of time that has brought this monument to its present form. As I look around its margins and see all the other hands, I also feel a deep connection to those who have chosen to yoke themselves to this task. Moving this stone is a labor of love, it is work of the heart – the work of our collective hearts. For, more than our bodies, it is our “hearts” that propel this stone on its journey toward a “peaceful tomorrow.”

And there are also the many hearts that this stone represents. Hearts silenced by the untimely intervention of conflict and war. Hearts full of hope and aspiration. Millions of hearts and their stories, now mostly unknown and lost when they were prematurely stilled. In its silence and simplicity, this monument to “Unknown Civilians Killed in War” has become a custodian of those hearts.

In those moments around the stone, standing in silence, I can imagine our living heart beats pulsing outward like the circles spreading around pebbles dropped in a still pool. They flow out of our hands upon the granite surface and silently unite in the heart of this monument with the myriad silent hearts residing there and with the heart of the earth from which this stone was forged. In that communal heart our hopes and dreams and prayers are amplified; yoked to a common task and purpose – the replacing of violence with peaceful methods of conflict resolution – the end of war and its terrible costs to both civilians and combatants alike.