Peace Pilgrim: American Sage

Peace Pilgrim: American Sage

For 29 years, Mildred Norman Ryder walked 25,000 miles alone, crisscrossing America with her message of goodness, truth and love.

In the summer of 1952, at age 44, Mildred Norman Ryder, traveling alone, became the first woman to hike the entire length of the 2050-mile Appalachian Trail. Adopting the moniker Peace Pilgrim, she continued walking throughout the United States for 29 more years, logging an additional 25,000 miles and touching others with the simplest of messages: “Overcome evil with good, falsehood with truth, hatred with love.” Penniless, wearing a blue tunic and carrying only a comb and toothbrush, she crossed the country seven times, and visited Canada and Mexico. She vowed to “remain a wanderer until mankind has learned the way of peace, walking until given shelter and fasting until given food.”

She began her pilgrimage for peace during the Korean War and McCarthy Era, walked through three decades including the Vietnam War and the youth rebellion, through the 1970s and up to her unexpected and ironic death in an automobile accident in 1981, when she accepted a rare lift while traveling to a speaking engagement. This hour-long documentary includes interviews with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, poet Maya Angelou, actor Dennis Weaver, author Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, and music by Oscar-nominated composer Philip Glass. It weaves together many cinematic elements into a rich tapestry that chronicles the Peace Pilgrim’s journey, and, through newsreels that capture the times through which she walked, depicts how American leaders often spoke about peace, and yet acted in war. An in-depth look at what inspired the Peace Pilgrim, and how she inspired others.

Length: 1:02:01

Scriptwriter; Film and Sound Editor: Sharon Janis
Cinematography: Khashyar Darvich and David Mueller