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Desert Dispatch, Barstow. July 23, 2005

Desert Dispatch

Monks carry message of disarmament

By KELLY DONOVAN/Staff Writer

BARSTOW --

A group of Buddhist monks and their supporters drew stares from local residents Friday as their procession entered town.

The group of about a half-dozen people is in the process of walking from San Francisco to Trinity Site, N.M., promoting an end to the use of nuclear weapons as they pass through communities along the way.

Their 1,600-mile journey, sponsored by the Global Nuclear Disarmament Fund, will end when they reach Trinity Site's Trinity Test Site, where the first atomic bomb detonation took place.

They carry with them the "atomic flame" that originated when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Matt Taylor, co-executive director of the Global Nuclear Disarmament Fund, said.

The flame is actually three separate flames in a special lantern, representing the atomic test at Trinity, the bomb on Hiroshima and the bomb on Nagasaki.

"When it gets back to Trinity, those three flames will become one, and that's what will be extinguished," Taylor said.

Putting out the single flame will be the group's call for an end to nuclear weapons.

Taylor told a small group assembled in front of City Hall Friday that the walkers hope that theirs will be the only atomic flame Barstow will ever see.

The monks and their supporters, who entered the city on West Main Street, were joined briefly by the mayor and two city officials on their way to City Hall.

Mayor Lawrence Dale walked up Second Avenue with the group, carrying the lantern, along with the city's spokesman, John Rader, and community development director, Scott Priester.

After reaching City Hall, the group took a break, and Priester and Dale presented the monks with City of Barstow memorabilia -- lapel pins and stickers. Later Friday, Barstow Community Hospital paid for the walkers to have lunch at Vick's.

Taylor said the walkers would be staying at a hotel in Barstow Friday night and leaving early this morning.

The walk to New Mexico will be featured in an upcoming two-hour television documentary narrated by Steven Seagal and directed by Taylor. For information about the walk and the documentary, visit www.gndfund.org.

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