Standing silently along the sidewalks of Charles Street today from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. will be Baltimoreans of every kind: 80- and 90-year-olds from retirement communities, schoolchildren, office workers, Catholic nuns and college kids.
Forming what organizers are calling a Peace Path, hundreds of people are expected to commemorate the tragic events that occurred a year ago today and promote peace by standing along the 12 miles of the city's main artery from the Inner Harbor to the I-695 Beltway. Some will be holding signs expressing sympathy for the Sept. 11 victims and promoting peace.
"We just want people to stand in reverence for people who lost their lives in violence. We think a quiet stand says more than anything," said Susan Rose, one of the organizers of the silent demonstration.
Planning began in May among a group of Baltimore women who are affiliated with an international peace network, Women in Black.
Looking for a way to give people an opportunity to participate in a peaceful response to Sept. 11, group member Betsy G. Cunningham suggested the peace path.
"There are a lot of people who want to do something for peace, but don't know what to do," she said.
Cunningham hopes there will be an outpouring of emotion similar to that of last September when cars pulled over to the side of the street to show respect for the lost and those at home lighted candles.
While the Peace Path was designed as an observation of Sept. 11, for some it may also be a chance to make a political statement against plans to attack Iraq, she said.
Women in Black was first formed in Israel among a group of Muslims, Jews and Christians who would gather in the center of Jerusalem each Friday morning, wearing black as a symbol of mourning. The organization has now become an international network with groups in cities throughout the world.
Women who were looking to find a way to promote peace reaching beyond the emotion of the moment formed the Baltimore chapter shortly after Sept. 11. The group has about 70 members.
To rally support for the Peace Path, the group contacted major cultural, educational and religious institutions along Charles Street, visited businesses along the route, mailed fliers and sent out e-mails to people throughout the city. At first, Women in Black hoped to have two or three people on each block, but Rose said the response has been much larger than anticipated.
Students at Notre Dame Preparatory School, residents of Roland Park Place, shopkeepers in Hampden, and members of churches and synagogues have all said they will be there. Organizers have made signs in more than 20 languages that they plan to hand out. People are also encouraged to make their own "positive peace" signs. Organizers said that anyone could join in along the way.
Participants are encouraged to use public transportation or to park along side streets. They are also urged not to get in the way of traffic, not to block intersections and not to stand in the median strip.
More information is available on the group's Web site: www.peacepath911.com.