"On January 1, 1953, at age 44, Mildred Norman Ryder adopted the name Peace Pilgrim, put on a pair of canvas sneakers, donned dark blue slacks, blouse, and a tunic – on which she had sown her new name – and set out to walk the length of the USA leaving from Pasadena, CA. She chose blue for her clothing because it is the international color of peace. She chose Pasadena because she wanted to set off walking ahead of the Rose Parade where thousands of people could see her. On that first trip, in the midst of the Korean War, the Cold War, and at the height of the McCarthy era, she walked 5,000 miles from California to New York, from coast to coast and from border to border, sharing her message of peace."
A quote from Mildred as to the timing of her walk.
The world situation is grave. Humanity, with fearful, faltering steps, walks a knife-edge between abysmal chaos and a new renaissance, while strong forces push toward chaos. Yet there is hope. I see hope in the tireless work for peace of a few devoted souls. I see hope in the real desire for peace in the heart of humanity, even though the human family gropes toward peace blindly, not knowing the way…I think that those of us who have found the way to peace, should be shouting it from the housetops.
For almost three decades, from 1953 to 1981, Mildred crossed the USA seven times, including two trips to Hawaii and Alaska, as well as Mexico and Canada. (See Marta Daniels’ article on the Peace Pilgrim)