Editor’s Note: This article was published on Tuesday, December 12, 1961.
Last March, a group of foot sore and weary travelers stopped here during their San Francisco to Moscow march for peace.
Speaking to Washburn students, Dr. John Beecher, former University of Arizona English professor and his wife Barbara explained the pacifist attitude and recommended unilateral disarmament on the part of the United States without guarantee of disarmament from Russia.
To dramatize direct, though non-violent, action toward achieving world peace, this couple and 15 others had undertaken the march for peace. They had already covered 2,200 miles before they reached Topeka.
Last month, the group, short a few members who had dropped out because of illness and strengthened by a few recruits, reached Moscow’s Red Square. With their signs repainted in Russian, the group picketed Russian installations, distributed copies of their literature to Soviet soldiers, met with Mrs. Khrushchev and spoke at Moscow University.
With the completion of the 6,000 mile trip, the group had fulfilled the pledge which they had explained to Washburn students, to go all the way to Moscow.
Although the Beechers heard their proposals labeled an unrealistic panacea or cure-all, they stood staunchly behind their two principle reasons why they desired an end to the arms race – first, military might is immoral and, secondly, armed might will not work.
Many other students, though most doubting the sincerity of the group members, expressed skepticism as to whether the group would or could reach Moscow.
The immediate goal of the group was achieved. They physically arrived in Moscow. What their walk did to promote the cause of world peace and thereby fulfill their ultimate goal can probably never be effectively evaluated.
The Beechers and their group were dedicated. They believed in what they were doing. It is easy to admire their strength, determination and courage. It is not so easy to admire the means the group chose to work for peace.
If everyone who believed that peace walks are not the answers to serious international problems, however attention-getting they are, would be as dedicated to solving world problems in their own ways, we would be able to make some headway toward the goal of peace.
The Beechers should not be criticized for working to fulfill a pledge they wholeheartedly believe in. The value of peace marches may certainly be questioned. A widespread pacifist sentiment could endanger the welfare of the United States. But those who do not believe that pacifism will cure the world’s ills should work to find, propose, or support other solutions to the various problems that confront us.