A group of 250 chanting peace demonstrators circled the Pentagon yesterday, saying they had come to reenact the biblical Joshua's encounter with the walls of Jericho.
No arrests were made in the morning-long demonstration, which left the Pentagon's gray walls intact. Wrapped in down jackets and wool caps, the group clutched multicolored balloons and hand-lettered signs as they circled the mammoth defense headquarters.
"It's freezing. I'm tired. I'm hungry. And my feet are cold," said Pat Tracy, a college instructor who had driven five hours from Long Island for the event. "But my soul is warm. Sounds corny, doesn't it?"
The turnout was considerably less than the 1,000 participants the organizers. Atlantic Life Community, said they had hoped for. Peace activists from as far away as Chicago, Cincinnati and North Carolina had spent the night in sleeping bags on basement floors of area churches -- "to be with a lot of people who have the spirit and moral insight to say something," in the words of one participant home from college on Christmas break.
A phalanx of helmeted police guarding the entrances found little to do. Men in uniform peered down from upper-story windows.
"It must be anti-American to smile," said a beaming Franciscan priest from Chicago who waved joyously at an unresponsive officer three floors above. "If it's not in the military manual, I guess they can't do it."
When the group's circle was closed, they wailed and shouted and beat on tin pans. "It's futile, the little things we do," said Edith Webber, a 60-year-old college English professor from Greenville, N.C. "But we have to do something."
As the noise died, unleashed balloons skittered quickly through the air and out of sight. The protesters watched them for a moment.Then they all walked away.