Great Peace March Holds Candlelight Vigil on Election Eve
PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Some 3,000 people hoping to extend the peace movement into the voting booth gathered on Independence Mall for a pre-election candlelight vigil.
The two-hour rally, featuring peace activists, folk singers and politicians, was sponsored by the Great Peace March for Global Nuclear Disarmament, which arrived in town Saturday after an eight-month, 3,542-mile trek from California.
″We’re here at the birthplace of American democracy, where the Constitution was written 200 years ago, to say that the nuclear arms race has to end before we do,″ said Bill Grassie of Friends Peace Committee, one of the local organizers of Monday night’s rally.
The crowd included many of the approximately 900 people marching to Washington, D.C., as well as teen-agers, parents with toddlers snoozing on sleeping bags and senior citizens. With candles raised, they swayed to the music of Peter Yarrow and Graham Nash and songs like ″If I Had A Hammer″ and ″Our House.″
Organizers of the rally, whose theme was ″Make Democracy Work for Peace,″ and speakers urged the crowd to turn rhetoric into action.
Maggie Kuhn, 82, founder of the Gray Panthers activist group for senior citizens, called peace ″the center issue″ in this election.
″It’s related to jobs. It’s related to unemployment,″ she said.
March spokesman Chris Ball said Democratic control of the U.S. Senate might help the arms control cause, but added that it ″certainly would take a lot more than that. We would need to keep this momentum going.″ Many of the marchers voted by absentee ballots, he said.