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American Soviet Walk: 25th Anniversary

June 8, 2012 marks the 25th Anniversary of the American Soviet Walk for Peace from Leningrad to Moscow, Russia. The Walk lasted for over one month, concluding in mid-July. In the following years, at least two other Peace Walks took place within the same program of strengthening mutual trust and understanding between the American and the Soviet citizens.

“Our Move” has existed for a quarter of a century as a slogan, for a decade as an idea for a project on the Web, and for just over a year as reality. Over the past 12 months over 350 photographs and other materials related to the Walks were contributed to the project’s online archive, by participants and other collaborators. That’s one photograph per day. None of these artifacts are at risk of being lost now. All of them are now instantly accessible on the Web, thanks to a collaborative effort.

Taken together, the collected photographs offer a glimpse back in time at a very important historical precedent: a first-ever, large scale, joint peace and nuclear nonproliferation initiative by the citizens of two opposing military superpowers, the U.S. and the U.S.S.R.

The specific ideological conflicts that gave rise to the nuclear arms race in the 20th century have since been superseded by other, more pressing concerns in the 21st century.

However, the fundamental tension between economic growth through energy consumption on one hand, and environmentally sustainable development on the other, persists and grows with every decade.

America’s and Russia’s nuclear weapons stockpiles, although reduced from their Cold War-era historic highs, still exist, and other nuclear states have “come online” in the years since. The on-going geopolitical tensions over some nations’ nuclear weapons development programs, and the on-going risks associated with nuclear power and waste storage, suggest that historical preservation, research, and educational outreach on the topic of grass-roots anti-nuclear and anti-war movements remains as important as ever. (In other words, we’ve got work cut out for us.)

Although the current collection of materials in the Our Move Archives is an excellent start, it represents only an initial move toward the project’s broader, long-term vision and goals. The door for collaboration remains always open, and more and more foot traffic has been coming through that door. New connections are made every week, as old ties are restored and new relationships formed. There is always more to be done.

The photo slideshow above is a tribute to that historic event, and a call for active involvement in present-day efforts supporting citizen diplomacy. Happy 25th Anniversary to the Walk, and to everyone who still keeps on walkin’. Move with us!

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