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Translating Peace Pilgrim Into French - Peace
Pilgrim Honored in Her Home Town
Department of Peace Initiative
Translating Peace Pilgrim into French
by Daniel Simard
In February of 2004 we received an email from Daniel
Simard of Montreal, Quebec, Canada offering to translate the Peace Pilgrim
Book into French for our website. The project took longer than anyone
realized at the start but you can now read our book online in French
or download a pdf file to read on your computer or palm pilot. Here’s
Daniel’s story of how the translation came to be.
The online French version is a little example of the continuing inspiration
that Peace Pilgrim is for people around the world, and especially for
me. For this task, I constantly kept in mind one of her principles:
set the priority on the really important things, over all those superficial
activities that encumber our lives. So as soon as I had free time outside
my work, in evenings, weekends, this was my priority. I also dedicated
weeks of vacation to the process, and I would happily see the work progressing
more rapidly in these full-time periods. There is not much to say about
it, though; once decided, it just got on its way, steadily. But maybe
I could relate how it all started up at a dinner conversation with my
Micheline - Daniel, what do you think of the Peace
Pilgrim web site for which I have sent you the link?
Daniel - Well, it took me many weeks before I looked
it up, as I was somewhat busy. I quickly browsed the web site and downloaded
a document in French. And then I decided to download the English version
to my handheld computer for the convenience of reading it at many places,
and also because I prefer to read original versions. But I noticed something
strange: the book that I downloaded in English was much longer than
the document in French. So I went back and browsed the Internet site
again and I realized there was a full book and also a shorter booklet.
The booklet was translated into more languages than the book. And you
know, it is odd, because the full book is available in Spanish, Portuguese,
and other languages, but not in French. But to answer your question,
I love the message, the great simplicity and deep spiritual truths of
this woman, not involved with any religious group. Apparently, she had
been widely known in the United States when she was walking over there,
but I never heard of her before.
Micheline - It is disappointing that the book is not
available in French. Even in these modern times, you would be surprised
how many people cannot read English, and this is even more the case
outside Montreal, like in the region where I work [Note: Quebec province
in Canada is around 80% French, but the distribution varies: cosmopolitan
Montreal is around 60% but elsewhere almost 100%]. I know plenty of
people who would be interested in reading it, but who are French-speaking
only. This is the case of our own mother... don't you think she would
like to read it?
Daniel - You are right... (pause) I have an idea! Do
you remember that company which seems to specialize in translating spiritual
books in French? May be you could write to them and ask them to translate
this one too?
Micheline - This is an idea... (pause) but wait a minute: this is not
Daniel - Why?
Micheline - Because one of Peace Pilgrim's important
principles is that spiritual truth should not be sold, and all the people
that have done something in relation to the English book or other translations
did it on a voluntary basis. And this company would sell the book; this
is a standard publishing company. (pause) But why don't you translate
the book yourself? Your English is good, and this would be a way to
do a valuable contribution. You will have no problem making an online
Internet version, since you work with computers and Internet.
Daniel - Me? (expression of surprise)... But to translate,
one needs to be perfectly bilingual! Of course, since I have been working
with computers for twenty years, I have acquired a knowledge of English,
but it is mostly on a technical level, plus day-to-day common language.
Micheline - But Peace Pilgrim is not advanced literature.
It is simple spoken language. What is more important is to master very
well the target translation language, which is your case.
Daniel - Well... (pause) OK! Here is the deal: I will
translate the book but you will be the reviewer of my drafts, since
your English is good too!
Micheline - Agreed!"
And that was it. I got started, translating chapter by chapter, and
my sister would review the drafts. It went through many cycles. And
when we considered it all done, a few more people good at both French
and English agreed to review it, so it went through many other eyes
and hands. The final step was to make the book available in various
computer formats, and readable for the Internet. But as a web programmer,
that was a task I could do without problem, that was a contribution
I happily made, as it fell into the field I was working in. And then
the FoPP webmaster agreed to integrate my pages into the Peace Pilgrim
(You can view and read the French translation at: http://www.peacepilgrim.org/fr)
Peace Pilgrim Honored in Her Home Town
On July 12, 2005 a park in her hometown of Egg Harbor City, New Jersey
was renamed and dedicated in memory of Peace Pilgrim. In attendance
were her sister Helene and friends from near and far as well as many
local citizens. The following account was written by local reporter
Meggan Clark and is excerpted from the Press of Atlantic City.
EGG HARBOR CITY, NJ - In the nearly three decades she
spent walking across the country to promote peace, few people knew the
woman who called herself Peace Pilgrim was from Egg Harbor City. Even
after her death, Peace Pilgrim's name and background remained largely
a mystery. But that all changed Tuesday, when a terra cotta statue of
the 1926 Egg Harbor City High School valedictorian was erected in the
London Avenue park across from the Roundhouse museum.
Sister Helene Young and the Peace Pilgrim
Statue at the new Peace Pilgrim Park in Egg Harbor City, NJ
(photo Mayte Picco-Kline)
|The park is now "Peace
Pilgrim Park." Surrounded by tiles made by Egg Harbor City
schoolchildren, the statue was funded by grants and is the project
of Smithville resident Barbara Reynolds. Reynolds said she was inspired
when she discovered Peace Pilgrim's writing about five years ago.
She conceived of the project when she realized many local residents
had never heard of Mildred Lisette Norman Ryder, who grew up on
an Egg Harbor City farm and began walking across the country to
promote peace in 1953.
That's because Peace Pilgrim strove to remain anonymous and keep
the public's attention focused on her message, said her sister,
Helene Young. Even when she returned home, she did so incognito
- as though her sister's home was just one of the hundreds that
sheltered her over the years. Nonetheless, Young said she believes
her sister, who died in 1981, would have approved of the likeness
of herself dedicated Tuesday in Egg Harbor City.
Peace Pilgrim was a tiny white-haired woman with intense blue eyes
and a riveting way of speaking. She carried only a map, a comb,
a toothbrush and a pen in the pockets of her blue tunic. She slept
in strangers' homes, when a bed was offered, and on the side of
the road when one was not.
For nearly 30 years, she walked the country's highways and country
roads, heading north when the weather was warm and south when the
frost came. She walked from coast to coast seven times, getting
jailed for vagrancy and being investigated by the FBI along the
By the time of her death in 1981, she had been interviewed
by every major news outlet in the country at least twice. She had been
compared to Mother Theresa, Jesus Christ and Mahatma Gandhi.
Asked where she came from, she revealed little to reporters.
To those she left at home, she wrote in 1953, "(tell journalists)
you do not feel you should give personal information about me."
But last week, as Egg Harbor City dedicated Peace Pilgrim Park in honor
of the woman who is arguably the city's most famous resident, her sister
allowed a closer look at the woman who, until recently, was largely
unknown in her hometown.
"She would be happy in the sense that it would carry on her message,"
said her sister, Helene Young of Cologne, Galloway Township, after the
terra cotta statue of Peace Pilgrim was unveiled last Tuesday night.
"The future generations are going to make peace in the world. This
is our hope, to have her message brought to the youth."
The story of Peace Pilgrim is the story of a woman who underwent a complete
transformation, from a wife, office worker and dancer to a prophet of
peace who catalyzed hearts and minds across the nation and around the
Born Mildred Lisette Norman in 1908, she grew up on a poultry farm without
electricity or running water. She was the valedictorian of the Egg Harbor
City High School Class of 1926, and then went to work at the local glass
plant and winery.
Mildred Norman wasn't cut from the same mold as most women of her generation,
according to her sister.
"She was finding that the life she was living wasn't bringing any
meaning," Young said. "She wasn't 'called into the family
pattern,' as she said. She was drawn to do something else."
In newspaper interviews, Peace Pilgrim said she spent 15 years mentally
preparing for her pilgrimage, the last five of that getting rid of all
her worldly possessions and obligations. She had discovered, she said,
that it was easy to make money, but making money and spending it on
worldly things did little for her spirit.
In 1952, she became the first woman to walk the Appalachian Trail from
beginning to end in one season.
On January 1, 1953, she set out from California on foot, determined
to walk across the country on a "pilgrimage for Peace."
"Dear Helene and all my friends back home," she wrote on Jan.
22, 1953, "When I last wrote to you, I was Mildred Ryder. Now I
am Peace Pilgrim."
"Many of her family and former friends actually rejected her,"
wrote Young's husband, Gene. "She was no longer the Mildred they
knew, and therefore beyond their comprehension."
Helene Young said she always supported her sister's pilgrimage, although
she did not understand its impact until after Peace Pilgrim's death
in a car crash on July 7, 1981 while being driven to a speaking engagement
near Knox, Indiana.
|"I always knew where
she was in advance," said Helene Young, who collected her sister's
mail from the Cologne post office and forwarded it to her for nearly
30 years. "I had her schedule for six months ahead when she
Sometimes, Helene Young said, Peace Pilgrim had a half-dozen or
more speaking engagements per day.
After her death, services were held for her in towns and churches
she had touched across the country. The Cologne Post Office was
flooded with mail.
"I really had no idea of the impact
she had on these people," Young said.
She said she still doesn't know who made Peace Pilgrim's navy blue
tunics, or who bought her shoes. She can't remember the name of
the woman in Philadelphia who dedicated her basement to Peace Pilgrim's
After her death, Peace Pilgrim's message carried on. Friends of
Peace Pilgrim have offered books and booklets and published a newsletter
for roughly two decades. A statue of her was installed at the United
Nations University of Peace in Colon, Costa Rica, in 2000.
After learning that Peace Pilgrim’s mail had been sent to
the Cologne post office, Barbara Reynolds inquired there and learned
that sister Helene Young lived almost next door.
Barbara Reynolds at the new park.
(photo Mayte Picco-Kline)
"I was just amazed that no one knew she was from here. When I found,
out I felt that the whole world needed to know," Reynolds recalled.
"I think she was the equivalent of Mother Theresa or the Dali Llama."
Louisa Butterhof Mazetis was one of the Egg Harbor City natives who joined
a large crowd for the dedication.
"I want to show respect for the Peace Pilgrim," she said. "What
she said was true."
Helene Young is pretty sure that, even though Peace Pilgrim always wanted
the focus on her message and not herself, she would be pleased with the
memorial in Egg Harbor City.
"As long as this does something to carry on her message, she would
be happy," Young said.
Department of Peace Initiative (top)
During her first pilgrimage in 1953, Peace Pilgrim carried three petitions.
One of those called for the creation of a cabinet level Department of
Peace in the federal government. It read: "This is the way of peace,
overcome evil with good and falsehood with truth and hatred with love.
We plead for the establishment of a Peace Department, with a Secretary
of Peace who accepts these principles--and with all conflicts at home
and abroad to be referred to this Peace Department."
On September 14, 2005 a bill to create an
executive branch Department of Peace was introduced by Congressman Dennis
Kucinich of Ohio with 56 co-sponsors.
The primary function of a United States Department of Peace will be
to research, articulate and facilitate nonviolent solutions to domestic
and international conflict.
The Department of Peace will facilitate the most cutting edge ways to
wage peace. From nonviolent communication skills, to conflict resolution
techniques and cultural relationship building, the Department of Peace
will employ proven and effective strategies for diminishing violence
in our country and in our world. As a member of the President’s
cabinet, the Secretary of Peace will provide the President; the State
Department; the Departments of Defense, Education and Justice with greatly
expanded problem solving options. The Department of Peace will also
provide support for state and local government to address issues of
Some of the functions of the new department