Mildred Ryder, better known as Peace Pilgrim, was born today in 1908. Beginning in 1953, she spent 28 years walking across the United States with few possessions and no money to her name. The back of her tunic read: “25,000 miles on foot for peace.”
Expressing her ideas about peace, she referred to herself only as "Peace Pilgrim." Peace Pilgrim's only possessions were the clothes on her back and the few items she carried in the pockets of her blue tunic which read "Peace Pilgrim" on the front and "25,000 Miles on foot for peace" on the back. She had no organizational backing, carried no money, and would not even ask for food or shelter. When she began her pilgrimage she had taken a vow to "remain a wanderer until mankind has learned the way of peace, walking until given shelter and fasting until given food."
On July 7, 1981, while being driven from the Chicago area to a speaking engagement near Knox, Indiana, Peace Pilgrim was killed in an automobile accident. At the time of her death, she was crossing the United States for the seventh time. After her death, her body was cremated, and her ashes were interred in a family plot near Egg Harbour City, New Jersey.
A few words from the lady herself:
In order for the world to become peaceful, people must become more peaceful. Among mature people war would not be a problem - it would be impossible. In their immaturity people want, at the same time, peace and the things which make war. However, people can mature just as children grow up. Yes, our institutions and our leaders reflect our immaturity, but as we mature we will elect better leaders and set up better institutions. It always comes back to the thing so many of us wish to avoid: working to improve ourselves.