He joked that he has been walking since he was a year old, but Stamford resident Al Forte’s most recent journey began August 31, at Old North Church in Boston, and will end at Ground Zero in New York City near the end of September.
On Wednesday morning, September 18, the 70-year-old grandfather strode through Newtown, starting his day at the top of Mt Pleasant Road, past the Main Street flagpole (with a diversion to St Rose of Lima Catholic Church) and then down Route 302 toward Bethel. He hoped to make it to the outskirts of Danbury or Ridgefield by the end of the day.
Mr Forte’s walk is to spread the message of praying for peace, he said, part of the Pray-For-Peace Walk Mission. A similar walk for peace that he undertook in 2010 took him from Boston through Providence, R.I., and then on to Hartford and New Haven, before ending at Ground Zero.
He had been considering another walk for peace as 2013 came closer.
“Then Newtown happened, and then Boston,” said Mr Forte, referring to the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School on 12/14 and the bombings at the Boston Marathon on April 15. “I realized I needed to walk again, to spread the message,” he said, as he paused Wednesday morning near the intersection of Baldwin Road and Route 302.
Because he was walking all day Monday, it was not until he saw the news on Tuesday that he heard about the massacre at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. “It just doesn’t end,” he fretted.
“There are people who have issues, and I don’t know what we can do for them. But there are people without issues who can be better. The trick,” Mr Forte believes, “is for good people to become better. Sometimes, it’s just smiling more. Sometimes it’s not making an obscene gesture on the road.”
An office manager for Allstar Paving and Sealing in Stamford before he retired, Mr Forte said that his goal is to walk 10 to 15 miles each day, rain or shine. A friend, Joe Ross, follows him in a car or scouts out the roadway, and picks him up at the end of each day’s walk.
He hopes that the people he meets along the way, or those who pass him by and read his “Pray For Peace” T-shirt will take his message to heart.
“If we become better, the world will become better, “ Mr Forte said, before continuing down Route 302, “and bring peace to the world. As we get better, we’ll notice people in need of help.”
To find out more about Pray-For-Peace Walk Mission, visit www.prayforpeacewalk.org.