1,600 Miles in Protest

Trio Taking Steps to Stop the War in Iraq

Mario Pe?alver, left, Elliott Nesch and Gordy Heuer prep to walk from Beltsville to College Park. The group has walked 1,600 miles and plans to hit the District on Tuesday for the sixth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Mario Pe?alver, left, Elliott Nesch and Gordy Heuer prep to walk from Beltsville to College Park. The group has walked 1,600 miles and plans to hit the District on Tuesday for the sixth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. (By Richard A. Lipski -- The Washington Post)
By Dan Morse
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, September 9, 2007

Elliott Nesch has walked more than 1,600 miles in protest of the Iraq war since he set out from Denver six months ago.

At 3 p.m. Friday, he came across an annoyance that Washingtonians see all the time.

"We were walking faster than the cars," Nesch said yesterday, describing the crawling traffic along Route 1 in Beltsville as the worst he'd seen on the journey.

And it had its advantages.

"They had more opportunity to read our signs," he said.

Nesch, 22, and two companions have been boring in on the District for months, planning to arrive downtown for the sixth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Other long-walk protest groups are also afoot, including March for Peace, which is expected to reach the White House for a rally at 1 p.m. tomorrow.

Nesch is part of a group called March of the People, which has slowed down of late, having reached the outskirts of Washington several days ago. They covered only three miles yesterday, a stroll by their standards, walking from just north of the Capital Beltway along Route 1 into College Park. They plan to bunk with volunteer hosts until Tuesday, striking out for the last nine miles that morning.

During their walk, the volunteer hosts in recent states have picked them up at designated end-of-the-day spots, then returned them the next morning. The volunteers lately have shuttled the walkers' gear to the next host, so the walkers don't have to carry much more than their signs.

Nesch's sign read: "Pro-War Is Anti-Christ."

He said three things motivate his walk: preaching the Gospel of Jesus, urging Christian ministers who support the war to repent and calling for another investigation of Sept. 11. "I think it was an inside job," he said.

He and the other two protesters were fairly well-treated, as they walked south, off the northbound lane, facing traffic. One notable dissenter: a silver sport-utility vehicle passenger yelling "God is a Republican!"

Protester Mario Pe?alver, 26, who recently earned a master's degree in humanities from the University of Chicago, with emphasis on poetry, cites more mainstream concerns: President Bush and the U.S. Congress have supported the war while paying only scant, if any, attention to protesters. His sign: a simple "Honk 4 Peace."


CONTINUED     1        >

© 2007 The Washington Post Company